HONDURAM PRESIDENT’S BROTHER, TONY HERNÁDEZ, GOT LIFETIME IMPRISIONMENT FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

Tony Hernandez, member of the National Party of Honduras and former deputy in the National Congress of Honduras (2014–2018) representing Lempira and brother of the sitting president, was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for drug trafficking by a U.S. judge on Tuesday. On November 23, 2018, Juan Antonio Hernández was arrested in Miami on drug trafficking charges. On November 26, 2018, they formally charged him in a federal court with importing tons of cocaine into the United States between 2004 and 2016, as well as on weapons charges. On October 18, 2019, they found him guilty of smuggling tonnes of cocaine into the US. On March 30, 2021, Tony Hernández was sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel. Prosecutor made the argument that he deserves a lifetime of imprisonment because of his past criminal records, and the amount of poison he imported into the United States. They accused him of trafficking around 185,000 kilograms (204 tons) of cocaine in the US over 12 years. Not only he smuggled drugs but was involved in all stages of the trafficking, bribing law enforcement officials to protect drug shipments, arranging heavily armed security for cocaine shipments and brokering large bribes from major drug traffickers to powerful political figures and was also complicit in at least two murders. President Juan Orlando Hernandez's statement on his brother being complicit in two murders “incredible that false testimonies of confessed murderers” were taken seriously. By involving himself in this major crime i.e. drug trafficking, he has not only brought limelight upon himself but his brother, the current president of Honduras, who holds the power. The year since Tony Hernández got arrested, prosecutors have made damaging allegations. Some of them believe Tony Hernández had "conspired with his brother, the president of Honduras" to engage in "state-sponsored drug trafficking.” Court documents also alleged drug money financed Juan Orlando Hernández's 2013 presidential campaign. The President has denied all the allegations and stated it is all part of a political vendetta. He admits the drug trafficking rates have risen since he has taken the office. But he still is in denial that his family has anything to do with it. Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez has taken a tough stance on drugs and portrays himself as an ally of the US in immigration and anti-narcotics operations. Although, it is very damaging. The opposition party grabbed the opportunity and accused the president of running a “narco-state” for years. The life sentence for his brother has drawn international attention. While Biden has yet to call out Hernandez, he has signaled that he intends to review the relationship between both countries.

“Obviously it’s impossible for the administration to maintain a relationship with someone who has been repeatedly mentioned as drug dealers in Honduras,” says Joaquin Mejia. The deputy coordinator for a law firm called the Legal Team for human rights.

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