Brother of Honduran president sentenced to life in drug case


NEW YORK — The brother of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández was sentenced to life in jail Tuesday after he was convicted on drug costs.

Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, a former Honduran congressman, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court docket by U.S. District Decide P. Kevin Castel, who additionally ordered him to forfeit $138 million.

Hernández was convicted in October 2019 of costs that carried a compulsory minimal sentence of 40 years in jail.

Assistant U.S. Legal professional Matthew Laroche informed the decide that Hernández for 15 years fueled a flood of cocaine shipments into the US by paying hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to high Honduran officers like his brother.

On this March 16, 2017 file photograph, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, arrives for a press convention in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A U.S. decide on Tuesday sentenced him to life in jail after he was convicted in New York on drug trafficking costs. (AP Photograph/Fernando Antonio, File)

Hernández’s lawyer, Peter Brill, had argued for leniency, saying the U.S. ought to focus anti-drug trafficking efforts on the voracious urge for food of its residents for medication.

In court docket papers, prosecutors had argued for a life sentence, citing Tony Hernández’s prison historical past.

His brother served because the chief of Honduras’ congress earlier than assuming the presidency in January 2014.

“The defendant was a Honduran congressman who, alongside together with his brother Juan Orlando Hernández, performed a management position in a violent, state-sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy,” prosecutors wrote in court docket papers.

“Over a fifteen-year interval, the defendant corrupted the democratic establishments of Honduras to counterpoint himself by transporting at the least 185,000 kilograms of cocaine — a staggering quantity of poison that he helped import into the US,” prosecutors wrote. They are saying he additionally offered weapons to drug traffickers, a few of which got here from Honduras’ army, and managed drug laboratories in Colombia and Honduras.

“Between 2004 and 2019, the defendant secured and distributed hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in drug-derived bribes to Juan Orlando Hernández, former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa and different politicians related to Honduras’s Nationwide Occasion,” prosecutors mentioned.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks during a press conference at the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Hernandez denied any wrongdoing after his name has come up repeatedly in the trial of alleged drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez in New York, as U.S. prosecutors continue to argue that Hernandez's political rise was fueled by drug traffickers. (AP Photo/Elmer Martinez)

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks throughout a press convention on the Presidential Home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Hernandez denied any wrongdoing after his title has come up repeatedly within the trial of alleged drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez in New York, as U.S. prosecutors proceed to argue that Hernandez’s political rise was fueled by drug traffickers. (AP Photograph/Elmer Martinez)

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They allege that amongst these bribes was $1 million from infamous Mexican capo Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to Juan Orlando Hernández.

President Hernández has repeatedly denied any ties to drug traffickers, as has Lobo, whose son is at present serving a 24-year drug trafficking sentence within the U.S.

In court docket on Tuesday, Tony Hernández appeared pale and downcast. When the defendant was given an opportunity to talk, he complained about his legal professionals, saying he hardly noticed them they usually barely responded to his emails.

“I really feel I’ve been lied to,” he mentioned by means of a translator.

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