Ex-Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Faces Decades in Prison for Drug and Firearm Offenses

Ex-Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Faces Decades in Prison for Drug and Firearm Offenses

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez faces a mandatory minimum 40-year sentence for drug and firearm offenses. U.S. prosecutors seek a life sentence to combat corruption and drug trafficking.

Bollywood Fever: Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is expected to be sentenced to decades in prison on Wednesday for his conviction on drug and firearm offenses. Hernandez, 55, faces a mandatory minimum 40-year prison sentence after a Manhattan jury found him guilty of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to protect U.S.-bound cocaine shipments from traffickers he once publicly vowed to combat.

Federal prosecutors have urged U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel to impose a life sentence on Hernandez. They argue that his actions facilitated large-scale international drug trafficking and the associated violence, sending a critical message to other traffickers and their government accomplices.

Ex-Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Faces Decades in Prison for Drug and Firearm Offenses

“Without corrupt politicians like the defendant, the kind of large-scale, international drug trafficking at issue in this case, and the rampant drug-related violence that follows, is difficult if not impossible,” prosecutors stated on Monday.

Hernandez, who led Honduras from 2014 to 2022, has been in jail in Brooklyn since his extradition from Tegucigalpa in April 2022. His lawyer, Renato Stabile, has urged Judge Castel to impose no more than 40 years, arguing that such a sentence is effectively a life term and maintaining that Hernandez plans to continue fighting his conviction.

“Mr. Hernandez did more to combat narcotrafficking in Honduras than any Honduran President before or since,” Stabile wrote.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) in Manhattan federal court.

During his two-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Hernandez used drug money to bribe officials and manipulate election results during Honduras’ 2013 and 2017 presidential elections. Several convicted traffickers testified that they had bribed Hernandez.

Testifying in his own defense, Hernandez denied taking bribes from drug cartels. His lawyers argued that the convicted traffickers were seeking revenge for his anti-drug policies. However, in May, Judge Castel denied Hernandez’s request for a new trial, rejecting the argument that a U.S. drug enforcement agent had mistakenly testified about the increase in cocaine trafficking during Hernandez’s presidency. The judge deemed this issue “immaterial” to the charges.

Hernandez’s younger brother, Tony Hernandez, was sentenced to life in prison in March 2021 following his own conviction on drug charges.

As Hernandez awaits his sentence, the case underscores the critical challenge of addressing corruption and drug trafficking in Central America and its impacts on international crime and violence.

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