HomeNewsAnalysisUS Alleges Honduras President’s Brother is Major Drug Trafficker
ANALYSIS

US Alleges Honduras President’s Brother is Major Drug Trafficker

CACHIROS / 26 NOV 2018 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Prosecutors in the United States allege that the brother of the president of Honduras is a major drug trafficker in Central America, providing further evidence that the country's political elites play an active role in the drug trade.

Federal authorities in Miami arrested former Honduran congressman Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández November 23 on drug and weapons charges. Antonio Hernández is the brother of current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Prosecutors say Antonio Hernández is a “large-scale drug trafficker" who worked in Colombia, Honduras and Mexico. A criminal indictment obtained by InSight Crime says that he imported "multi-ton loads of cocaine" into the United States for more than a decade. 

The arrest comes less than a year after Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga -- a former leader of the once powerful "Cachiros" criminal group -- testified that he paid Antonio Hernández $50,000 in bribes.  The exchange ensured that the government paid a debt to a company that the Cachiros used to launder drug proceeds, according to the indictment.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

Just months before that, US authorities in Miami considered Antonio Hernández a “person of interest” in a high-profile drug trafficking investigation linked to Wilter Blanco, the suspected leader of the Atlantic Cartel.

Reacting to his brother's arrest, President Hernández said that “nobody is above the law.” He added that he hopes the justice system will clarify whether these accusations are true.

President Hernández is not the only Honduran head of state from the ruling National Party to have family members with alleged ties to the Cachiros’ drug trafficking operations. In September 2017, US authorities sentenced Fabio Lobo, the son of former President Porfirio Lobo, to 24 years in jail for conspiring with the criminal group to traffic cocaine into the United States.

InSight Crime Analysis

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this indictment is that it comes as no surprise.

The Cachiros wove Honduras' political elites tightly into their criminal modus operandi, and the case of President Hernández's brother is no exception.

Juan Antonio Hernández wasn't a small-time drug trafficker. He was allegedly involved in every step of the cocaine trade: processing, receiving, transporting and distributing. The former congressman had such a prominent role that his initials, "TH," were allegedly stamped on some of the cocaine shipments he handled. Drug loads were protected by members of the national police, which he called upon to act as heavily armed security, according to the indictment.

He also afforded other drug traffickers protection through his political connections.  Not only did he pay enforcement officials for information critical to protecting drug shipments, but he also served as a conduit for large bribes paid by major drug traffickers to high-ranking Honduran politicians, according to the indictment.

SEE ALSO: Honduras Elites and Organized Crime

It's unclear what Antonio Hernández's arrest means for US-Honduras relations. President Hernández is the United States' main ally in Central America. The North American nation backed Hernández even after his bitterly contested reelection victory was marred by allegations of electoral fraud.

At home, President Hernández is already in the crosshairs of anti-corruption prosecutors in the Attorney General’s Office and the internationally-backed Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH) regarding his alleged role in diverting millions of dollars of public money for political purposes.

The United States is one of the major funders of the MACCIH, but it remains to be seen if the arrest of the president's brother and the ongoing investigation into Hernández's alleged criminal activity will alter the relationship of the two nations.

share icon icon icon

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

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 31 AUG 2018

In a bold move that may further stoke tension in his Central American nation, Guatemala President Jimmy Morales has announced…

EL SALVADOR / 14 AUG 2018

When former El Salvador President Antonio Saca began to declare himself as the author of one of the most well-known…

HONDURAS / 26 NOV 2012

Honduran officials dismantled a network involved in synthetic drug production that is reportedly linked to Mexico's…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…