Former Honduran president found guilty in drug trafficking trial

Former Honduran president found guilty in drug trafficking trial - Crime and Courts - News

Former President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, Found Guilty of Drug Trafficking by American Jury

After a two-week long trial in Manhattan federal court, the former President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, was found guilty on Friday of conspiring with drug cartels for moving over 400 tons of cocaine through Honduras towards the United States. Hernández, who is 55 years old, was also accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to fuel his rise in Honduran politics.

The Accusations Against Hernández

Hernández served as the President of Honduras from 2014 until 2022. He was extradited to the United States in 2022, following the completion of his second term in office. The charges against him include conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, conspiracy to possess firearms and destructive devices for drug trafficking, and possession of such weapons during the drug trafficking conspiracy.

The Conspiracy and the Use of Executive Power

Prosecutors argued that during Hernández’s presidency, he “protected and enriched” the drug traffickers in his inner circle. The Justice Department claimed that Hernández used his executive power to support extraditions of certain drug traffickers to the US who threatened his grip on power, while promising those who paid him and followed his instructions that they would remain in Honduras.

The Role of the Honduran National Police

Prosecutors also testified that members of the drug trafficking conspiracy that Hernández participated in relied on the Honduran National Police to protect cocaine loads as they moved through the country.

Hernández’s Defense and the Reaction from US Attorney General

Despite the charges, Hernández had denied all allegations against him and testified in his defense earlier this week. However, on Friday, his attorney, Raymond Colon, announced that they would appeal the conviction.

The Statement from US Attorney General Merrick Garland

In a statement, US Attorney General Merrick Garland commented on the conviction by stating that Hernández “abused his position as President of Honduras to operate the country as a narco-state, allowing violent drug traffickers to operate with virtual impunity.” He added, “As today’s conviction demonstrates, the Justice Department is relentless in disrupting the entire ecosystem of drug trafficking networks that harm the American people.”

A Tragic Turn of Events for Hernández

Attorney Colon spoke to the media after the verdict, expressing his client’s feelings. He stated that Hernández was “still strong” but “quite disillusioned.” Colon added, “It’s a tragedy.” The attorney also called Hernandez a “noble man who fought for the same goals that the US had in terms of the war against drugs.”