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HomeCentral AmericaHondurasHonduras Nabs Key Figure in Ex-President's Drug Trafficking Ring

Honduras Nabs Key Figure in Ex-President’s Drug Trafficking Ring

In a significant development in the ongoing fight against drug trafficking in Central America, Honduran authorities have apprehended a close associate of former President Juan Orlando Hernández. This arrest comes on the heels of Hernández’s recent conviction on drug trafficking charges in a New York court. The capture was announced on Friday by the Minister of Security, Gustavo Sánchez, highlighting the continued efforts to dismantle drug trafficking networks with ties to high-level political figures.

The individual in question, Mario José Cálix, also known by the alias “Cubeta,” is 42 years old and formerly served as the deputy mayor of Gracias, a municipality in northwestern Honduras. Cálix, who is alleged to be part of the criminal structure associated with the former president, was apprehended in the eastern department of Olancho. This arrest marks a crucial step in the ongoing investigations into drug trafficking operations that have plagued Honduras and the broader region.

Minister Sánchez provided details of the operation in a press conference, stating, “The accused is being transferred to the capital where he will be presented before the judicial authority that ordered his capture in the coming hours.” This swift action demonstrates the Honduran government’s commitment to cooperating with international law enforcement efforts.

The capture of Cálix was facilitated by a reward system implemented by the Ministry of Security. Earlier this week, the ministry had offered rewards for information leading to the whereabouts of 16 drug lords wanted for extradition by the United States. In the case of Cálix, the reward stood at $40,000, a strategy that Sánchez confirmed “worked” in bringing about this arrest.

The extradition request for Cálix dates back to 2019 and was issued by the Southern District Court of New York. Interestingly, this is the same court where former President Hernández was found guilty of three drug trafficking charges on March 8th of this year. The former president, who held office from 2014 to 2022, was accused of conspiring to import a staggering 500 tons of cocaine into the United States between 2004 and 2022. Hernández now faces sentencing next Wednesday, with the possibility of receiving a life sentence.

The case against Hernández and his associates has shed light on the deep-rooted connections between political power and drug trafficking in Honduras. The former president’s brother, Antonio “Tony” Hernández, was sentenced to life in prison in March 2021 for “large-scale” drug trafficking after being arrested at Miami airport.

These high-profile cases are part of a larger trend in Honduras’ fight against drug trafficking. Since 2014, approximately fifty Hondurans have been extradited to the United States on drug-related charges, while others have voluntarily surrendered when faced with prosecution.

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