A federal judge in Beaumont, Texas, sentenced a Honduran national to prison following his guilty plea in an international murder-for-hire scheme. The man pleaded guilty in July to soliciting the murder of family members in Honduras.
Santos Orellana-Hernandez, a 47-year-old Honduran living in Port Arthur, Texas, pleaded guilty in July 2021 to the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire. He also pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness by intimidation and threats and conspiracy to commit witness tampering, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Texas issued Wednesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Thad Heartfield sentenced Orellana-Hernandez to 100 months in prison.
Federal court records reveal that Orellana-Hernandez hired who the FBI referred to as a hitman, Gustavo Ramirez, to murder four extended family members in Honduras. The document stated the defendant offered to pay Ramirez $200,000 Lempira ($8,000 USD) to murder his mother-in-law, his wife’s uncle, his wife’s ex-boyfriend, and the ex-boyfriend’s mother. He said he wanted the killings to inflict pain on his wife he was divorcing at the time.
The hits were to take place on or after April 21, 2020, the date his divorce was scheduled to be finalized, the criminal complaint states. He said he would utilize proceeds from the divorce to pay the hitman. The hitman was required to provide photographic evidence of the murders.
Ramirez supplied the FBI a recording of conversations with Orellana-Hernandez regarding the murder-for-hire scheme. In the recording, the FBI said the defendant spoke with the hitman about “planting the corn” — code for burying the victims’ bodies.
The complaint lays out Orellana-Hernandez’s criminal history of domestic violence against his wife and her mother. The couple had been separated for several years prior to the divorce proceedings.
A federal grand jury indicted the defendant in May 2020, the DOJ reported. A superseding indictment in November 2020 added the additional charges related to witness tampering.
“This case exemplifies excellent local and federal law enforcement cooperation, and the FBI collaborated with our international partners in Honduras to successfully stop a senseless act of violence by Orellana-Hernandez,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Brit Featherston said in a written statement.
“Crimes of violence, here or abroad, will not be tolerated and all the tools of law enforcement will be utilized to stop violent crime and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law,” Featherston added.
Breitbart Texas reached out to the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Texas regarding the immigration status and history of the defendant. An immediate response was not available.