Juan Orlando Hernandez was extradited last month on charges that he received millions of dollars from 2004 to 2022 to support a drug trade that delivered hundreds of thousands of kilograms of drugs to the U.S.
The attorney for former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said he wants to call notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the stand as one defense witness in his high profile drug trafficking case in New York federal court.
“We’re going to subpoena El Chapo,” said defense attorney Raymond Colon. “If the judge orders it, the government will have to produce him. We’ll hear what he has to say.”
El Chapo is currently serving a life sentence in a U.S prison for a massive conspiracy that utilized killings and corruption to support drug trafficking for over two decades.
Colon said Hernandez denied taking millions in payoffs from El Chapo and other murderous drug kingpins in exchange for helping them transport large amounts of drugs through Honduras to the U.S. He said he expected El Chapo would verify that claim, if he were able to get him to testify.
Hernandez pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan. Wearing a blue jailhouse uniform, Hernandez said in Spanish, ”Not guilty your honor” during Tuesday’s hearing before Judge P. Kevin Castel.
Hernandez was extradited to New York on April 21 on the drug trafficking-related charges. Drug Enforcement Administration agents said while publicly promising to help the U.S. fight drug trafficking, privately he was working closely with the cartels.
After Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorney Colon said he would try to subpoena other long-shot witnesses – like former Presidents Trump and Obama as well as former top U.S. security officials like John Kelly and Mike Pompeo.
Hernández Allegedly Partnered with Some of the Largest Cocaine Traffickers in the World to Transport Tons of Cocaine through Honduras to the United States
Juan Orlando Hernández, aka JOH, 53, the former President of Honduras, will make his initial appearance tomorrow, April 22, before Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron in federal court in New York after being extradited today from Honduras. A federal court unsealed drug-trafficking and weapons charges today in a superseding indictment against Hernández.
The indictment charges that from at least in or about 2004, up to and including in or about 2022, Hernández, the former two-term President of Honduras, participated in a corrupt and violent drug-trafficking conspiracy to facilitate the importation of hundreds of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Hernández allegedly received millions of dollars to use his public office, law enforcement, and the military to support drug-trafficking organizations in Honduras, Mexico, and elsewhere.
“The Justice Department is taking a comprehensive approach to protecting our communities and our country from violent crime,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The 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.”
“Juan Orlando Hernández, the recent former President of Honduras, allegedly partnered with some of the world’s most prolific narcotics traffickers to build a corrupt and brutally violent empire based on the illegal trafficking of tons of cocaine to the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Hernández is alleged to have used his vast political powers to protect and assist drug traffickers and cartel leaders by alerting them to possible interdictions, and sanctioning heavily armed violence to support their drug trade. I commend the career prosecutors of the Southern District of New York for their tireless efforts to disrupt the entire illicit drug trafficking ecosystem, from street-level dealers to a former world leader, and everything in-between.”