October 4, 2022

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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks Announcing Charges Against Juan Orlando Hernandez, Former President of Honduras

9 min read

Remarks as Delivered

Good afternoon everyone. I am joined today by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.

Today, Juan Orlando Hernández, the former President of Honduras, was extradited to the United States to face federal charges.

Hernández is charged with participating in a corrupt and violent drug-trafficking conspiracy to facilitate the importation of tons of cocaine into the United States from 2004 to 2022.

As is charged in the indictment, Hernández abused his position as President of Honduras from 2014 through 2022 to operate the country as a narco-state.

Hernández is alleged to have received millions of dollars from multiple drug trafficking organizations, including from the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, known as El Chapo. 

In return, drug traffickers in Honduras were allowed to operate with virtual impunity. We allege that Hernández corrupted legitimate public institutions in the country — including parts of the national police, military, and national Congress. 

And we allege that Hernández worked closely with other public officials to protect cocaine shipments bound for the United States.

Those officials included his brother, Tony Hernández, a former Honduras congressman who was convicted in 2019 in the Southern District and sentenced to life in prison.

Because of these alleged crimes, communities in the United States suffered, and the people of Honduras suffered.

As you will hear shortly in more detail from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, these charges are part of a years’ long investigation of criminal drug trafficking organizations and their infiltration of the Honduran government.

So far, this investigation has led to the conviction of numerous Honduran drug traffickers who were responsible for the importation of over 500,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States as well as dozens of foreign murders.

Drug trafficking fuels violent crime and addiction; it devastates families, and it ravages communities.

The Justice Department is committed to disrupting the entire ecosystem of drug trafficking networks that harm the American people, no matter how far or how high we must go.

As the DEA Administrator will explain in more detail, today’s charges are part of our broader efforts to disrupt the activities of the most violent and extensive drug-trafficking organizations and gangs.

The Justice Department is taking a comprehensive approach to protecting our communities and our country from violent crime and from the scourge of deadly drugs.

We will work to support the communities most impacted by drug addiction and abuse.

We will work with our partners to hold drug traffickers accountable for their crimes.

And we will confront corruption and criminal conduct anywhere that undermines the security of the American people.

I’m now going to turn the program over to United States Attorney Damian Williams.

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