Juan Antonio Hernández, who is also known as Tony Hernández and is the younger brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, was found guilty Friday of drugs, weapons and false-statement charges.
He was convicted of all four counts following a trial that included allegations of personal bribes from the leader of a drug cartel for the financing of his brother’s presidential campaign. Tony Hernández is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17, 2020. A cousin is also charged in the case.
“Tony Hernández was involved in all stages of the trafficking through Honduras of multi-ton loads of cocaine that were destined for the U.S.,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.
Tony Hernández plans to appeal the conviction, according to media reports citing his lawyers. Juan Orlando Hernández, who wasn’t charged and denies receiving bribes for his presidential campaigns, said on social media that he received the verdict “with great sadness” and questioned the credibility of the testimony and evidence against him and his brother.
“What can be said about a sentencing based on testimonies of confessed murderers, and arguments that many of these witnesses were not extradited by Honduras if the U.S. never asked them for extradition?” Juan Orlando Hernández said.
Tony Hernández, a former Honduran lawmaker, was a large-scale drug trafficker who worked with counterparts across Latin America to process, receive, transport and distribute multi-ton loads of cocaine arriving in Honduras via plane, helicopter and boat, prosecutors said. He participated in the importation of almost 200,000 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S., they said.
Tony Hernandez also controlled cocaine laboratories in Honduras and Colombia, at which some of the product was stamped with the symbol “TH,” signifying his initials, prosecutors said. He made millions of dollars through his role in drug trafficking, prosecutors said.
A former Honduran mayor who has confessed to mass murder testified during the trial that he witnessed jailed former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán Loera personally hand a $1 million bribe, in bundles of $50,000 and $100,000 piles, to Tony Hernández for Juan Orlando’s presidential campaign. The president has vehemently denied the accusation.
Hondurans reacted earlier this month with resignation when U.S. prosecutors opened the trial, saying the country will never fix its issues with corruption, violence and criminality. Honduras is seen as a transit country for cocaine bound for the U.S., the U.S. State Department said in March.
Hernández also coordinated, and at times participated in, heavily armed security for cocaine shipments within Honduras, including by members of the national police and other drug traffickers, prosecutors said. Hernández used members of the police to coordinate a 2011 murder and 2013 killing of a drug worker known as “Chino,” the prosecutors said.