Former Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández Accused of Drug Trafficking and Corruption

Former Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández is facing charges of drug trafficking and corruption as his trial commenced in a New York court on Wednesday. Prosecutors allege that Hernández collaborated closely with El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel and the notorious MS-13 gang to smuggle substantial quantities of cocaine into the United States over a span of nearly a decade.

During his tenure as the leader of Honduras from 2014 to 2022, Hernández allegedly received millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels, who also funded his political campaigns and manipulated local elections to maintain his grip on power. Manhattan federal prosecutor David Robles, addressing the jury, described the case as one centered around power, corruption, and the trafficking of massive amounts of cocaine, with Hernández at its core. Robles accused the former president of exploiting the resources of his country, including the military, police, and justice system, to protect and support drug traffickers.

Robles further claimed that Hernández openly boasted about his ability to flood the United States with drugs during his presidency, even earning praise from then-President Donald Trump for his supposed efforts in combating drug smuggling. Hernández, aged 55, has been in custody at a federal facility in Brooklyn since his arrest in 2022. If convicted on charges related to drug and weapons smuggling, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years in prison.

In his opening statement, Hernández’s defense attorney, Renato Stabile, criticized the government’s reliance on the testimony of individuals he described as “depraved people” and “psychopaths” responsible for numerous murders. Stabile urged the jury to consider the credibility of these witnesses, emphasizing the high number of killings they had committed. He also sought to address the expected introduction of photographs showing Hernández alongside notorious drug smugglers, arguing that the former president was often approached by various individuals, including drug dealers, seeking photo opportunities.

Stabile contended that the amount of cocaine transported through Honduras to the United States actually decreased during Hernández’s time in power. He highlighted key changes implemented by the ex-president, such as a new extradition deal with US authorities, which allegedly disrupted the operations of drug cartels. Stabile further claimed that assassination plots against Hernández by these cartels would be revealed later in the trial.

Author: CrimeDoor

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