Who is Tony Hernandez? Honduras prez's brother gets life in jail for trafficking 185,000 kg cocaine into US
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernandez Alvarado, the brother of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez, was recently sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years on Tuesday, March 30. Tony was convicted on drug charges and was reportedly sentenced in Manhattan federal court by US District Judge P Kevin Castel. He was also asked to forfeit $138M.
In October 2019, Tony was convicted of the charges, which as per Fox has a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years behind bars. As per Assistant US Attorney Matthew Laroche, Tony "fueled a flood of cocaine shipments into the United States by paying millions of dollars to top Honduran officials like his brother".
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Who is Juan Antonio 'Tony' Hernandez?
Tony, 42, is also a lawyer in addition to being a politician and is reportedly a member of the National Party of Honduras. He was also the former deputy in the National Congress of Honduras from 2014-2018 where he represented Lempira. He was first arrested on November 23, 2018, in Miami, and was charged in federal court for importing cocaine into the US from 2004-2016 on November 26, 2018. On October 18, 2019, he was found guilty on the drug trafficking charges, which led to his sentencing on March 30. He is the son of Juan Hernandez Villanueva and Elvira Alvarado Castillo and had 16 siblings. He is also married to Miriam Vanessa Cruz Sierra.
Tony's lawyers asked for leniency for their client, a former Honduran congressman, whose brother served as the leader of Honduras’ congress and later became president in January 2014. As per prosecutors and court papers, Tony "along with his brother Juan Orlando Hernandez, played a leadership role in a violent, state-sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy".
It further revealed details of Tony's crimes which in part read, "Over a fifteen-year period, the defendant corrupted the democratic institutions of Honduras to enrich himself by transporting at least 185,000 kilograms of cocaine — a staggering amount of poison that he helped import into the United States." Prosecutor also said, "Between 2004 and 2019, the defendant secured and distributed millions of dollars in drug-derived bribes to Juan Orlando Hernandez, former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa and other politicians associated with Honduras’s National Party." Tony had also sold weapons to drug traffickers and some of the weapons had come from the Honduras’ military, prosecutors said. He also controlled drug laboratories in Colombia and Honduras.
FOX News also reported prosecutors alleging that among the bribes to Juan Orlando Hernandez was $1M from Mexican capo Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. While the Honduran President has denied any involvement with drug trafficking and traffickers, this is not the first of his family members have been sent to prison. His son, Lobo, is reportedly in person serving a 24-year sentence in the United States for drug trafficking.
During his court appearance on Tuesday, Tony reportedly complained about his legal team revealing that he didn't see them much and his emails were "barely" responded to. Using a translator he said, "I feel I have been lied to." The Wall Street Journal reported that Judge Castel said that Tony had "acted as a facilitator, providing bribes to politicians in the impoverished Central American nation, including President Hernandez". “Based upon Tony Hernandez’ free choice to engage in a life of drug trafficking for 12 years, a sentence of life imprisonment is richly deserved,” the judge said.