HomeNewsAnalysisInSight Crime Series – The Downfall of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández
ANALYSIS

InSight Crime Series – The Downfall of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández

ELITES AND CRIME / 18 SEP 2019 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

A major US drug case against the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has ensnared the president, who prosecutors say took part in a conspiracy when millions in drug proceeds went to fund his campaigns in exchange for protecting traffickers.

While Hernández has not been charged with any crimes, he has come under fire in Honduras and under scrutiny in the United States, which has long held him up as a poster child for allies that have taken on drug trafficking in Central America.

Hernández’s brother, Tony, is set to go to trial in October. If court documents from the sweeping case are any indication, prosecutors won’t be afraid of pointing the finger at Hernández and other high-level officials — including former President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo — when it comes to leveraging drug trafficking to “maintain and enhance their political power.”

Here, InSight Crime presents a four-part series that examines the embattled president, including his alleged links to drug traffickers, major scandals that have tarred his reputation, and threats to his political future.

1 – How an Ex-Mayor Could Bring Down the Honduras President

Amilcar Alexander Ardón went from cattle rustler to milk farmer to drug capo to mayor of El Paraíso, a small town along a key trafficking route on Honduras’ border with Guatemala. There, he formed a business relationship with Tony Hernández, whereby Ardón provided drug proceeds to the political campaigns of Juan Orlando Hernández in exchange for protection. This criminal partnership allegedly lasted for years, and it now may end Hernández’s political career.

2 – Criminal Allegations Unravel Honduras President’s Crime Fighting Façade

When President Hernández was first elected head of state in 2013, the United States saw him as a critical ally to fight corruption, impunity and organized crime in Central America. Over time, however, a number of criminal allegations have cast doubt on Hernández’s commitment to tackling his country’s most pressing problems. Bilateral cooperation on migration, the use of extradition, and US-backed “mano dura,” or “hard fist,” strategies to fight crime might not be enough to keep him in the good graces of his allies in Washington.

3 – Wild West of Honduras: Home to Narcos and Their Politicians

Western Honduras is a remote mountainous region used to smuggle all types of contraband and drugs. It is also where Tony Hernández used his brother’s rising status in the National Party to protect and advance his own drug trafficking enterprise. From his base in the department of Lempira, Tony Hernández rode his brother’s coattails, becoming a local powerbroker and then a congressman. Tony also used his clout there to help criminal groups, such as the Valles, while funneling drug money to his brother’s political campaigns.

4 – How His Own Extradition Policy Exposed the Honduras President

After President Hernández’s alleged links to traffickers came to light, he immediately pointed out that he had sent dozens of capos to face justice in the United States. But the same traffickers, hoping for shorter prison sentences, ended up cooperating extensively with US officials. Surprisingly enough, their testimony led to the drug case against his brother, an unintended consequence of the extradition policy Hernández rammed through to get into office.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America's largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 14 MAR 2016

Mounting citizen protests amid widening corruption investigations are putting pressure on Brazil's economic and political leaders, although there are still…

ELITES AND CRIME / 27 JUN 2016

A formidable combination of weak state institutions, powerful economic elites and high-level corruption has kept tax rates exceedingly low for…

ELITES AND CRIME / 21 AUG 2014

Presidents in Central America have blamed US drug policy for fueling the ongoing child migrant crisis, but the violence,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…