US sentences ex-Honduras president to 45 years for drugs charges

On Wednesday, a New York court sentenced former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez to 45 years in prison for trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine into the United States.

Anti-Hernandez demonstrators gathered outside the Manhattan courthouse ahead of the sentencing, waving posters condemning the former head of state’s actions.

The punishment, which included an $8 million fine, was less than prosecutors’ request for life in jail, though Hernandez’s age, 55, means he may die in prison.

Hernandez, who, according to US federal prosecutors, transformed his Central American country into a “narco-state” from 2014 until 2022, has previously stated that he intends to fight his conviction.

Hernandez was convicted in March of facilitating the smuggling of around 500 tons of cocaine, primarily from Colombia and Venezuela, into the United States through Honduras since 2004, long before his administration.

Prosecutors claim Hernandez used the drug money to enrich himself, bankroll his political campaign, and conduct electoral fraud in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections.

He was extradited to the United States in 2022, charged with assisting drug smugglers in exchange for millions of dollars in payments.

Hernandez follows in the footsteps of several previous Latin American leaders convicted in the United States, including Panama’s Manuel Noriega in 1992 and Guatemala’s Alfonso Portillo in 2014.