The younger brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been arrested in Miami on drug and weapon charges.
Juan Antonio ‘Tony’ Hernandez is accused of conspiring with criminal networks in Mexico and Colombia ‘to flood American streets with deadly drugs,’ DEA agent Raymond Donovan said in a statement.
Hernandez, a former congressman with alleged ties to a notorious Honduran drugs cartel, is set to appear in a Miami court later today.
He faces up to life in jail if he is found guilty of charges which include ‘conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, and related weapons charges.’
President Juan Orlando Hernandez (left) said his brother Juan Antonio’s (right) arrest is a ‘tough blow’ for the family but that his country will continue supporting the United State’s battle against drug trafficking
Authorities say he worked with drug traffickers in Columbia, Honduras and Mexico to import cocaine into the US between 2004 and 2016.
Hernandez is also accused of arming Honduran National Police and drug traffickers with machine guns to protect his cocaine shipments, and lying to federal agents.
According to the indictment, from around 2004 to about 2016, Hernandez ‘was involved in processes sing, receiving, transporting, and distributing multi-ton loads of cocaine that’ made it to Honduras on airplanes, boats and even a ‘submarine’.
‘Drug trafficking and corruption around the world threatens the rule of law, fuels violence and instability, and harms innocent families and communities,’ said DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan, who leads the Special Operations Division, in a statement released Monday.
‘Hernandez and his criminal associates allegedly conspired with some of the world’s most deadly and dangerous transnational criminal networks in Mexico and Colombia to flood American streets with deadly drugs
The suspect’s name was first tied to Los Cachiros cartel last year when the drugs gang’s former leader Devis Leonel Maradiaga testified in a New York court that ‘Tony’ Hernandez had accepted bribes in exchange for assisting the cartel with its money laundering scheme.
Hernandez, a 40-year-lawyer and lawmaker, had agreed to help solve a debt that the government previously owed Inrimar, a shady business company the cartel founded in 2009 to clean profits earned through its illicit dealings, according to Maradiaga’s testimony.
In a 2014 secretly recorded meeting, according to the indictment, Maradiaga made a payment of about ‘$50,000’ to the Honduran president’s brother.
A press officer with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York told DailyMail that Hernandez was arrested at Miami International Airport but would not reveal any other details on the case
The company was established with the sole purpose of selling and buying, building, and leasing all types of real estate. It also offered supervision and consulting of all types of civil works.
Under President Obama, Los Cachiros network was sanctioned in May 2013 under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act or Kingpin Act.
‘Tony’ Hernandez, one of 17 siblings, was elected to congressional office in 2013.
Maradiaga turned himself in along with his brother Javier Eriberto Rivera Maradiaga in December 2013.
Ex Honduran military captain Santos Orellana Rodriguez claimed in 2016 that the DEA was trying to get him to testify against ‘Tony’ Hernandez
Devis Leonel Maradiaga was the leader of Los Cachiros, a cartel in Honduras. The former drug boss said in an U.S. court that he paid $50,000 to the younger brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez to help solve a debt that the government previously owed Inrimar, a shady business company the cartel founded in 2009 to clean profits earned through its illicit dealings
They brother tandem cooperated with the Drug Enforcement Agency in helping bring down the Honduran president’s brother and a number of other key corrupt politicians who enriched themselves through their business connections with the cartel in the Central American nation.
Devis Leonel Maradiaga declared in a prior court testimony that he once paid $400,000 to former Honduran president Porfirio Lobo, who ruled from 2010 to 2014 before President Hernandez won the 2013 presidential election.
While President Lobo denied any contact with the criminal syndicate, his son Fabio Lobo was nabbed by the DEA in Haiti in 2015 and sentenced to 24 years in a U.S. jail in September 2017 after he pleaded guilty to his nexus with Los Cachiros and aiding Honduran cops transport cocaine into the United States.
During an October 13, 2016 meeting with the DEA at the U.S. embassy in Honduras, former military captain Santos Orellana Rodriguez said he was pressured to testify against the President’s brother or they would publish his name in a news story linking him to plotting the assassination of ambassador James Nealon, according to Univision.
Weeks later, at the behest of president, ‘Tony’ Hernandez voluntarily presented himself in a Miami court. He denied any involvement after news surfaced over arranging an attack against the U.S. ambassador to Honduras.
During a press conference on Friday, President Hernandez said he and his family would be there for his brother.
‘I can not ignore that it is a strong blow for the family. It’s a tough blow for all of us. It’s sad. It’s hard. We don’t wish this to anyone,’ the Honduran president said.
‘I hope that the justice system, as it corresponds, will provide him the space to defend himself and as a family we will be there for him in all capacity. May the justice system allow itself to clarify whether those accusations are true or not.’