TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - A court found a Mexican man and two Hondurans guilty of plotting to assassinate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who has extradited more than a dozen drug lords since taking office, a judicial spokesman and security officials said on Sunday.
The Mexican, Jesus Estrada, and the two Hondurans, Victor Flores and Jose Contreras, were convicted of planning to kill the Honduran leader in a September 2014 scheme, said supreme court spokesman Melvin Duarte.
Flores and Contreras were also convicted of criminal conspiracy. Another three people, including a Mexican, were found not guilty, Duarte added.
The men were captured in different places in 2015. They were convicted late Saturday night, and their sentences will be decided on April 24, Duarte added.
The plotters had hoped to kill Hernandez in 2014 when he was due to land in a helicopter in his home town of Gracias, 200 km (124 miles) west of Tegucigalpa, security sources said.
The scheme, which also involved Colombians and Guatemalans linked to the now-disbanded Valle brothers cartel, was foiled by U.S. and Honduran authorities, the sources said.
“They were planning to attack the president as a result of the war (on drug gangs) that he launched since he took office in 2014,” said a security official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. At least 13 drug lords have been extradited to the United States since Hernandez came to power.
Five of those 13 were heads of the Valle brothers cartel, which was linked with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, previously controlled by Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman. He was extradited from Mexico to the United States in January.
The sentence for attempting to kill the president is up to six years, while criminal conspiracy charges can face up to 10 years, according to Honduras’ penal code.
Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Alistair Bell