Photo: Jorge Cabrera/Getty Images
Justice Department officials Thursday revealed drug and firearms trafficking charges against former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, accusing the former leader of the Honduran government as a participant in a plan to flood the United States with tons of cocaine.
Federal officials allege that Hernandez “abused his positions in the Honduran government to partner with some of the world’s largest and most violent drug traffickers to traffic hundreds of thousands of kilograms of cocaine through Honduras for distribution in the United States.” The Justice Department said in a statement.
Juan Orlando Hernández, alias JOH, 53, will make his initial appearance on Friday, April 22, before Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron in federal court in New York, after being extradited today to the United States from Honduras.
Hernández allegedly received millions of dollars from drug traffickers, including former Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo Guzmán,” to use his public office, law enforcement, and the military to support drug trafficking organizations in Honduras, Mexico, and elsewhere.
“The Department of Justice is taking a comprehensive approach to protecting our communities and our country from violent crime,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Department is committed to disrupting the entire ecosystem of drug trafficking networks that harm the American people, no matter how far or how high we must go.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the former president operated Honduras as “a narco-state.” Among the millions in alleged bribes, Garland said that Hernández received at least one million dollars from El Chapo to finance his electoral campaign.
“In exchange, drug traffickers in Honduras were allowed to operate with virtual impunity.” Garland said. “We allege that Hernández corrupted legitimate public institutions in the country, including parts of the national police, the military, and the national Congress. And we allege that Hernandez worked closely with other public officials to protect cocaine shipments destined for the United States.”
Among those officials was the brother of the former president, Tony Hernández, a former Honduran congressman, who was convicted of drug trafficking in 2019 in Manhattan and sentenced to life in prison.
“Because of these alleged crimes, communities in the United States suffered and the people of Honduras suffered,” Garland said.
Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams described the level of public corruption that allegedly facilitated the operation as “impressive.”
The crimes of which he is accused in the United States are:
The first charge against Juan Orlando Hernández charged by the United States is “conspiracy to import a controlled substance” into that country, with the “knowledge that said substance would be illegally imported” into United States territory, “into waters at a distance of 12 miles from the United States coast.”
Additionally, he is charged with “manufacturing, distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance aboard an aircraft registered in the United States.”
The second accusation is for “using or carrying firearms, or aiding and abetting the use, possession, and possession” of “machine guns and destructive devices.”
The third accusation refers to a “conspiracy to use or carry firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices, during and in connection with, or possess firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices, in furtherance of the narcotics importation conspiracy,” according to U.S. authorities. USA.
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