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HomeCentral AmericaHondurasHonduras extradites former president Hernandez, wanted for drug trafficking in the U.S.

Honduras extradites former president Hernandez, wanted for drug trafficking in the U.S.

Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández (2014-2022) will be extradited this Thursday to the United States, which is demanding him to be tried for drug trafficking, a crime punishable in that country with up to life imprisonment.

Although Hernández’s departure was initially scheduled for 07H00 local time (13H00 GMT), Security Minister Ramón Sabillón informed Thursday that it was rescheduled for 13H00 (19H00 GMT).

“I wanted to inform of the delay that the DEA [U.S. anti-drug agency] flight had: it is coming until one o’clock in the afternoon and that has postponed our plans,” the minister explained at a press conference.

Hernandez, once an ally of Washington, is being held in a prison in the Special Police Forces barracks in eastern Tegucigalpa, known as Los Cobras. From there he will be taken to the Honduran Air Force base at Toncontin airport in the south.

He will then board a US aircraft that will take him to New York, where he will be imprisoned and stand trial.

In the request, U.S. prosecutors asserted that between 2004 and 2022, even before he was president, “Hernández participated in the violent drug trafficking conspiracy to receive multi-ton shipments of cocaine”.

The conspiracy transported “approximately 500,000 kilograms of cocaine through Honduras to the United States,” the document added.

Lawyers in New York

The extradition, initially approved by a judge, was then ratified at the end of March by the 15 magistrates of the Plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), all of whom were appointed during the first Hernández administration.

In a statement, the family of the former president announced that they hired lawyers Raymond Colón and Daniel Pérez in New York to take on his case and to be the spokespersons of the process from now on.

Hernández’s family reiterated the “innocence” of the former president and considered him “a victim of the revenge of the drug traffickers that he himself extradited or forced to flee to the United States”.

According to the former president, the drug lords that his government helped extradite are seeking agreements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to reduce their sentences, “and based on lies, accuse the former president of committing acts against U.S. law.

The former governor even went so far as to proudly display Washington’s praise for his government’s work in drug seizures.

Even in 2017, when he managed to be elected to a second term amid opposition accusations of fraud and citizen clashes that left some 30 people dead, the United States was one of the first governments to hail his triumph.

Hernández left power on January 27, 2022. Days later, the State Department announced his inclusion in a list of corrupt characters, to later request his extradition.

A “narco-State”

JOH, as he is known by his initials, was arrested on February 15, at the request of the United States.

His brother, former congressman Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, was sentenced to life in prison in March 2021, also accused of manufacturing his own cocaine under the brand name of his initials, “TH”.

In the trial, federal prosecutors said “Tony” operated with his brother and government institutions, turning Honduras into a “narco-state.

Another former official awaiting extradition is former National Police chief Juan Carlos ‘El Tigre’ Bonilla, accused of “supervising” the former president’s drug trafficking operations.

“Three life sentences could make me a living dead,” said Hernandez, anticipating the harsh sentences that could await him.

“I never believed that this struggle for peace for us Hondurans would lead us to be known as a narco-state. I knew that this struggle would not be easy, it would have many risks,” he lamented a few days ago.

by Noe LEIVA

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