Former President of Honduras Jailed for 45 Years Over Drug Charges

A 45-year jail term was handed down to former Honduran president Juan Orlando for his role in a 10-year conspiracy with drug lords that saw 400 tons of cocaine smuggled into the US. 

Judge P. Kevin Castel handed down the sentence that pretty much guarantees Hernández will die in prison. In addition, he was given an $8 million fine. The judge said that the punishment should deter others from obtaining power and then assuming they are immune to punishment for their wrongdoing.

In March, Hernández was found guilty of possessing “destructive devices” like machine guns and plotting to bring cocaine into the United States. According to New York prosecutors, he used the Central American nation as a “narco-state” and took payments from drug lords totaling millions of dollars to keep them out of jail. In their final arguments before his conviction, prosecutors stated that they had created a cocaine superhighway to the US with machine guns. 

Between 2014 and 2022, Hernández presided over Honduras, a country of more than 10 million people, for two consecutive terms. He campaigned as a law-and-order candidate who pledged to do something about the high crime rate associated with drugs. Prosecutors, however, said along with some of the world’s most prolific narcotics traffickers, Hernández built an illegal cocaine trafficking empire. 

In April 2022, three months after stepping down from government, he was apprehended in the United States to face federal charges after being extradited to New York. His nation received about fifty million dollars in anti-narcotics help and extra millions of dollars in security and military aid from the United States since he was formerly considered as a staunch ally.

Later, prosecutors found evidence that Hernández had connections to drug lords even before he became president in 2004 and that he had helped smuggle in around 500 metric tons of cocaine to the United States. He took payments of millions of dollars from drug lords so they could transport cocaine from Honduras to the United States via Colombia and Venezuela.