A New York federal judge sentenced this Tuesday to life imprisonment Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández for trafficking 185 tons of drugs to the United States, according to prosecutors with the collaboration of his brother, the President of Honduras.
Following a two-week trial in New York in October 2019, former MP Tony Hernández, 42, was found guilty of all four charges, including cocaine trafficking to the United States, false testimony and possession of firearms.
Judge Kevin Castel He said the life sentence for Tony Hernández, who was detained at a Miami airport in November 2018, was “well deserved.”
Prosecutors for the southern district of New York assured in their process that the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, was a key partner of his brother Tony, although he has not been charged.
Prosecutors had demanded life imprisonment, stressing that Hernández “had not shown any remorse,” while the defense had asked for the mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years.
“With total impunity”
“The accused was a Honduran congressman who, together with his brother Juan Orlando Hernández, played a leadership role in a violent, state-sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy”, Prosecutors wrote to the judge before sentencing.
Tony Hernández operated “with total impunity” thanks to the protection of his brother and contributed to the “putrefaction” of Honduran institutions, the prosecution also said during the trial.
A witness from the prosecution, former drug trafficker and former Honduran mayor Alexander Ardón, testified in the process that he witnessed a meeting in 2013 in which the now incarcerated Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán, then head of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, handed over a million dollars in cash to Tony Hernández for his brother’s election campaign.
The president of Honduras was also accused by US prosecutors of being a partner of another Honduran drug trafficker, Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez, found guilty of drug trafficking on March 22 after a trial presided over by Judge Castel himself.
Juan Orlando Hernández, a lawyer who came to power in January 2014 and is in his second term, denies having been a partner of his brother or Fuentes in the cocaine trafficking to the United States, and says that drug traffickers who testified against his brother in both processes want revenge on him for his fight against drug trafficking.
All since 2006
During the Geovanny Fuentes trial, US prosecutors claimed that all Honduran presidents since 2006 have received bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for protection and a promise not to be extradited.
Fabio Lobo, son of former Honduran president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo (2010-2014) -of the National Party, the same as the Hernándezes- was sentenced to 24 years in prison in New York in 2017 for helping to traffic 1.4 tons of cocaine to the United States.
Tony Hernández’s former lawyer, Melvin Bonilla, was shot and killed earlier this month when he was driving through a central area of Tegucigalpa.
An alleged partner of Tony, Magdaleno Meza, was shot and killed in October 2019 in a Honduran maximum security prison, days after the president’s brother was found guilty.
According to his lawyer, Meza was assassinated after receiving threats “from people who identified themselves as belonging to the government.