Honduran man in Texas hired hit man to kill wife’s mom, uncle amid divorce, feds say

·3 min read

As a Honduran national living in Texas was going through a divorce, authorities say he tried to have members of his wife’s family killed in a murder-for-hire plot.

Santos Orellana-Hernandez, 47, hired a hit man for about $8,000 as he wanted to make his soon-to-be ex-wife “cry tears of blood” after their divorce, according to a Jan. 19 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas. He was living in Port Arthur, Texas, while officials say he solicited the murders from January to March of 2020.

Following an investigation into the solicited murders that did not occur, Orellana-Hernandez was sentenced to more than 8 years in federal prison. He plead guilty to the charges of “use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, tampering with a witness by intimidation and threats, and conspiracy to commit witness tampering,” according to the release.

His defense attorney said he could not respond to a request for statement by McClatchy News.

In an affidavit filed in court, authorities say Orellana-Hernandez had called a hit man in Honduras to “arrange the murder” of his mother-in-law and her brother.

Authorities say that in a recorded telephone call between Orellana-Hernandez and the alleged hit man, he said he was being divorced by his wife in Jefferson County, Texas.

“He wanted to hurt her by killing her mother and uncle who live in Honduras,” officials said.

A federal investigator says he interviewed the hired hit man on April 24, 2020. During an interview, the man said Orellana-Hernandez had asked him to kill four people in Honduras. The other two people were later identified as an ex-boyfriend of his wife, and the ex-boyfriend’s mother.

The hit man says he was asked to kill them on or after April 21, 2020, according to court records, as that was the day their divorce would be finalized. That date was eventually moved due to a COVID-19 shutdown.

As part of the investigation, the hired hit man provided a recording of an earlier phone call he had with Orellana-Hernandez. Authorities say Orellana-Hernandez used coded phrases, like “planting the corn” during the call, which the hit man says meant “burying victims’ bodies.” The hit man also reported that he would be paid after providing photograph proof of the killings.

Officials say Orellana-Hernandez “has a history of domestic violence against” his wife, which includes death threats against her and his mother-in-law. They had been separated for years prior to the divorce proceedings.

Orellana-Hernandez was indicted on the charges in May 2020, according to the news release. While he was jailed in early June, officials say he conspired with his brother to try intimidating his wife “in an attempt to make her ‘withdraw’ the murder-for-hire accusation.” That led to the additional witness tampering charges.

“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 Brit Featherston said in a 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.”

Prison chaplain smuggled Gucci glasses, porn and cigarettes in Pennsylvania, feds say

Postal worker stole Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen gift cards from mail in Illinois, feds say

School worker stole 3,000 iPods meant for Native American kids in New Mexico, feds say

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting