The brother of the president of Honduras has reportedly traveled to the United States following the revelation that he is considered a "person of interest" in a high-profile drug investigation, marking a significant development in an already explosive case.
Multiple local media outlets in Honduras reported on October 25 that Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández, the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, had traveled earlier that day to Miami, accompanied by his attorney.
Several news sources, including Radio HRN and Canal 6, reported that Tony Hernández was traveling to Miami in order to meet with US authorities regarding a major drug investigation that has roiled Honduras since it was revealed earlier this month.
The US Embassy in Honduras announced on October 7 that several Honduran citizens are under investigation for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking scheme linked to Wilter Blanco, the suspected leader of the Atlantic Cartel who has been charged with drug crimes in the Southern District of Florida.
Local press accounts suggest that dozens of suspects including mayors, congressmen, judges, military officials and police officers may also be targets of the probe.
InSight Crime reported on October 17 that a source in the US embassy said that Tony Hernández is a "person of interest" in the investigation. Additionally, an army captain under investigation by the United States was reportedly pressured by a US anti-drug agent to implicate Tony Hernández in narcotics trafficking activities.
Tony Hernández has not been charged with a crime in the United States, and US officials have not publicly stated that he is a target of any formal investigation.
The day before Tony Hernández reportedly travelled to Miami, his brother President Hernández made a public address in which he stated that his administration would not provide "any concessions or privileges" to anyone accused of a crime, even if they belonged to his own family.
"No one is above the law," the president reiterated.
InSight Crime Analysis
The reports that Tony Hernández has traveled to the United States suggest the president and his brother are taking seriously the possibility that the US investigation could reach the first family. The US government has expressed a strong interest in the case thus far, and seems intent on pursuing the investigation wherever it leads.
SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles
As InSight Crime has previously pointed out, the US investigation has put President Hernández in a difficult position. He is facing powerful pressure from the US government to cooperate with the drug trafficking probe, which has already implicated members of the Honduran military -- a key political ally for Hernández. If the investigation ensnares his brother, the president may be forced to sacrifice his own family in exchange for his continued political viability.