Previous leader of Honduras gets sentenced to 45 years in American jail


(MENAFN) Juan Orlando Hernandez, the former president of Honduras, has been handed a 45-year prison sentence by a United States judge for his involvement in facilitating large-scale cocaine smuggling into the United States, as reported by various sources including Reuters. The 55-year-old politician, who has consistently maintained his innocence, was extradited to the United States in April 2022 and has since been held in a New York jail.

Prosecutors accused Hernandez of collaborating with powerful drug cartels over several years, allegedly allowing more than 400 tons of cocaine to be trafficked through Honduras to the United States. Despite Hernandez's denial of the charges, a Manhattan jury in March found him guilty of accepting substantial bribes to shield drug trafficking operations, contrary to his public stance against narcotics.

During his sentencing, Hernandez reiterated his innocence, claiming he was unjustly accused and emphasizing his supposed commitment to combating drug trafficking. However, the judge presiding over the case highlighted Hernandez's adept manipulation of public perception, describing his portrayal as an anti-drug advocate as skillful acting.

According to prosecutors, Hernandez's tenure as president saw the Honduran National Police co-opted into protecting cocaine shipments, underscoring the extent of his alleged involvement with drug traffickers dating back to 2004. Reports indicate Hernandez received millions of dollars in bribes from drug syndicates, further implicating him in orchestrating what US Attorney General Merrick Garland denounced as a narco-state during his presidency.

Garland's statement emphasized Hernandez's abuse of presidential power, alleging he fostered an environment where drug traffickers operated with minimal hindrance, significantly impacting regional security and contributing to broader narcotics issues in the Americas. The case against Hernandez underscores the complexities of combating drug-related corruption and its far-reaching consequences on governance and international relations.

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