On Friday, the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was arrested in the United States on drug trafficking charges.
According to the Honduran government, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, a 40-year-old lawyer and former ruling party lawmaker, was arrested by U.S. authorities in Miami. The president’s brother is the latest in a string of prominent Hondurans, including three congressmen, who have been charged in the United States for involvement with drug trafficking.
The Honduran president in his reaction said, “this is a heavy blow for the whole family. I hope the justice system gives him the room to defend himself, and as a family, we will do what we can to support him.”
A lawyer for the president’s brother has denied previous accusations of links to the Cachiros drug trafficking organisation. A leader of the Cachiros gang had testified during a trial in March 2017 in New York that “Tony” Hernandez had taken a bribe to help launder drug funds.
The Honduran president, a conservative lawyer who came to power in 2014, has reined in homicides with a tough policy against drug cartels and street gangs that has been supported by the United States and criticised by human rights groups. Former President Porfirio Lobo, who governed Honduras between 2010 and 2014, has also been linked to the Cachiros criminal organisation in trials in the United States and has rejected these accusations.
Last year, one of Lobo’s sons pleaded guilty before a U.S. court to conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.