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Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Is Extradited to U.S.

Source: Getty Images / Getty

The former president of Honduras was convicted in a federal court of trafficking tons of cocaine into the United States and aiding local cartels.

On Friday (March 8), a Federal District jury in New York City found former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine, illegally using and carrying machine guns, and possessing machine guns as part of a “cocaine-importation conspiracy.” Also known as JOH, the 55-year-old Hernández was charged with smuggling over 500 tons of cocaine into the United States from Colombia and Venezuela via Honduras since 2004, before his ascension to the presidency. “He paved a cocaine super-highway to the United States,” said federal prosecutors during the trial, stating that he worked with the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and enriched himself as the country sank into high levels of corruption and poverty.

Hernández had portrayed himself as a “law and order” candidate with the right-wing Honduras National Party in 2013 on his way to his first term as president. His vows to crack down on traffickers and crime received praise from the Trump administration, but prosecutors aided by a slew of witnesses testified about how much he was allied with the cartels in the country as well as Mexico and other countries who paid him millions. The disgraced politician once said he’d “stuff the drugs right up the noses of the gringos,” according to witnesses, “and they won’t even notice.” It’s the first such prosecution of a foreign politician since the prosecutions of former Panamanian General Manuel Noriega in 1992 and Guatemala’s Alfonso Portillo in 2014 and comes three years after the conviction of his brother, Juan Antonio on similar charges.

Witnesses for the prosecution included Devis Leonel Rivera, head of the powerful Los Cachiros cartel; Fabio Lobo, the son of former president Porfirio Lobo (2010-2014) and Alexander Ardon, a member of Hernández’s former party. Rivera, who admitted to being involved in 78 murders including that of two American journalists, testified that he personally bribed Hernandez with $250,000. “They should have tried to catch us,” he said on the stand, saying that instead “they allied with us.”Outside of the courthouse, many celebrated the verdict with signs in Spanish reading, “No clemency for narcopolitics.” Hernández is scheduled to be sentenced on June 26 and faces life in prison.

Former Honduran President Convicted Of US Drug Trafficking  was originally published on hiphopwired.com