A brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was charged by federal prosecutors on Monday. He allegedly conspired to import tons of cocaine to the United States, and is charged as well with weapons offenses and lying to federal agents.
Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado, also known as Tony Hernandez, was arrested Friday in Miami and was due to appear in federal court there on Monday.
The suspect is not only brother to the Honduran president, but was also a Honduran congressman. He is now being cast as “a large-scale drug trafficker” who worked for more than a decade with compatriots as well as traffickers based in Mexico, Colombia and other countries. They received, processed and distributed cocaine making its way through Honduras en route to the United States. Hernandez used cocaine laboratories in Honduras and Colombia. Some drug packages were stamped with the initials “TH,” according to investigators.
Prosecutors also said Hernandez coordinated and sometimes provided security for drug shipments within Honduras, even using members of the country’s national police force for the job.
These allegations against Tony Hernandez have cast a shadow over his brother’s government in a Central American country that is a major transit hub for cocaine.
Honduras is also the residence of thousands of migrants who recently have been moving toward the U.S. border with Mexico. They maintain they are escaping a poor economy and oppressive gang crime.
“Hernandez was involved in all stages of the trafficking through Honduras of multi-ton loads of cocaine that were destined for the U.S.,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
Raymond Donovan, who heads U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special operations, said Hernandez is accused of working with “some of the world’s most deadly and dangerous transnational criminal networks” to “flood American streets with deadly drugs.”
The indictment indicates that Hernandez paid and took bribes to smooth the flow of drugs and money — at times paying off law enforcement officials for information to safeguard drug shipments, and at others soliciting bribes for himself and other high-ranking officials.