US wants life in prison for brother of Honduras president


NEW YORK — A brother of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández should be sentenced to life in prison for running a “state-sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy” with the nation’s current leader, U.S. federal prosecutors say in documents filed ahead of a sentencing hearing scheduled next week.

Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, a former Honduran congressman, was convicted in October 2019 of participating in a conspiracy to traffic cocaine to the United States that involved use of machine guns.

His sentencing, which has been delayed multiple times, is scheduled for Tuesday in New York.

Documents filed by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York late Tuesday, lay out Tony Hernández’s criminal history, as well as the points where it overlapped with his brother, who served as the leader of Honduras’ congress before assuming the presidency in January 2014.

“The defendant was a Honduran congressman who, along with his brother Juan Orlando Hernández, played a leadership role in a violent, state sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy,” prosecutors wrote.

The U.S. government wants Tony Hernández to give up $138.5 million in “blood money” from his drug trafficking and pay an additional $10 million fine.

“Over a fifteen-year period, the defendant corrupted the democratic institutions of Honduras to enrich himself by transporting at least 185,000 kilograms of cocaine — a staggering amount of poison that he helped import into the United States,” prosecutors wrote. They say he also sold weapons to drug traffickers, some of which came from Honduras’ military, and controlled drug laboratories in Colombia and Honduras.

“Between 2004 and 2019, the defendant secured and distributed millions of dollars in drug-derived bribes to Juan Orlando Hernandez, former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa and other politicians associated with Honduras’s National Party,” prosecutors said.

They allege that among those bribes was $1 million from notorious Mexican capo Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to Juan Orlando Hernández.

President Hernández has repeatedly denied any ties to drug traffickers, as has Lobo, whose son is currently serving a 24-year drug trafficking sentence in the U.S.

Neither president has been charged.


AP writer Christopher Sherman in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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