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Judge Kevin Castel sentenced to life imprisonment Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, brother of the president of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), on charges of drug trafficking.
“It was shown that beyond a reasonable doubt that Juan Antonio Hernández was guilty of the charges against him,” the judge said, who mentioned the testimonies of five cooperators presented by prosecutors.
Before his sentencing, Hernández told the judge that he “did not feel prepared” to be sentenced this day, but the judge replied that a jury had already found him guilty since October 2019.
Judge Castel of the Southern District of New York accepted prosecutor Audrey Strauss' request to seize $138.5 million, which was described as “blood money.”
“The Government respectfully requests that the Court order the accused to lose $138,500,000”, the request indicated.
President Juan Orlando Hernández finds himself in the midst of the controversy over his alleged relationship to drug trafficking, which came to light during Geovanny Fuentes' trial, sentenced last week for conspiracy in drug trafficking and use of weapons.
In a message on Twitter, President Hernández published that his family was waiting for “the painful news” from New York and assured that the DEA cooperators' testimony had lied. The name of the president appears more than 60 times in the prosecutor’s sentence documents.
Hernández’s lawyer asked the judge to grant him a maximum sentence of 40 years, not life imprisonment, assuring that he would be an “old,” “broken” man at that time.
Former Honduran congressman Tony Hernández sentenced to life in prison and ordered to forfeit $138.5 million for distributing 185 tons of cocaine and related firearms & false statements offenses https://t.co/E0VbnD4yvD
Judge Castel said that he did not see any evidence of a violation of the process against Hernández, who indicated “not feeling comfortable” with his defender, in addition to other alleged violations.
The judge also referenced that Tony Hernández even received at least one million dollars from Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the Sinaloa Cartel leader, to receive protection from the government of his brother Juan Orlando.
In an October 2019 interview, Honduran human rights promoter Miroslava Cerpas stated that Honduras was “governed by a criminal organization," a comment arising from his country's mass migration to the United States.
“There are two things clear—that is, fear and hunger. The fear is caused by these criminal groups that are in the State with the tolerance of the government. Recently here in New York, he, the president's brother (Tony Hernandez), was sentenced…that is the problem. It’s because organized crime rules us,” Cerpas lamented.
Cerpas explained that: “the population has nowhere to go to file a complaint. For example, it was demonstrated that this cartel was linked to the MS-13. How is a person going to file a complaint against MS-13 with the National Police if we know that they are linked to those who govern us?"