Juan Orlando Hernández, Honduras
Juan Orlando Hernandez is escorted by authorities as he walks towards a plane of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for his extradition to the United States Fredy Rodriguez/Via Reuters

SEATTLE - Former Honduras president Juan Orlando Hernández is set to learn his fate this week when he hears the sentence against him after being found guilty on three drug and gun trafficking charges.

Hernández was accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of conspiring to import and export cocaine. He was extradited to the U.S. on April of 2022 after the completion of his second term as Honduras president.

On March 8 of this year, the former Honduras president was found guilty by a jury on the aforementioned charges. On June 26, he will know whether he will spend the rest of his life at an American prison, as the maximum sentence for trafficking cocaine can be life imprisonment.

Hernández has maintained that he is innocent despite all the drug and gun trafficking charges he is being accused of and, in a letter sent to the judge this past Friday, he reiterated that the trial "is full of errors and injustices."

"The prosecutors and agents did not do the proper due diligence with the investigation to know the whole truth," said the letter sent to the judge Kevin Castel, who also sentenced Hernández's brother to life, Juan Antonio, back in 2021 on drug trafficking charges.

Prosecutors have been accusing Juan Orlando Hernández of conspiring with drug cartels during his tenure as president. They say he was instrumental in moving more than 400 tons of cocaine through Honduras toward the United States in exchange of millions of dollars in bribes that Hernández used to fund his political career.

He was president of Honduras from 2014 to 2022 and was extradited to the United States on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine into the U.S., conspiracy to possess firearms and destructive devices for drug trafficking, and possession of this type of weapon during the drug trafficking conspiracy.

Some of the most important witnesses assured the court that the former president used bribe money to solidify his political status and even accepted one million dollars from the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

As part of the trial, Hernández's lawyer Renato Stabile sent a letter to the judge to ask for a maximum sentence of 40 years for his client. "Hernández is 55 years old, so a 40-year sentence equals a lifetime," Stabile said in a 159-page document along with the letter.

Throughout the process, Hernández has maintained his innocence. He has repeatedly described himself as avid opponent of drug trafficking during his tenure as Honduras president. He pointed to his administration's military cooperation with the United States as well as his frequent visits to Washington to visit U.S. officials.

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