Honduras Ex-President Hernández Extradited to US

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Hernández was arrested at his home in Tegucigalpa in February at the request of U.S. authorities

Honduras extradited former President Juan Orlando Hernández to the United States on Thursday to face drug trafficking and weapons charges in a dramatic reversal for a leader once touted by U.S. authorities as a key ally in the war on the drugs.

Just three months after leaving office, a handcuffed Hernández boarded an airplane with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration bound for the United States, where he faces charges in the Southern District of New York.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Hernandez “abused his position as President of Honduras from 2014 through 2022 to operate the country as a narco-state.”

In court documents, U.S. prosecutors alleged Hernandez was involved in a “corrupt and violent drug-trafficking conspiracy” that moved more than 550 tons of cocaine to the United States. Hernandez was charged with drug trafficking conspiracy. He also faces charges for possessing machine guns and other destructive devices, and conspiring to possess machine guns.

Prosecutors charge that Hernandez received millions of dollars from drug cartels, including from notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. They claim that Hernandez used the money to fund his political campaigns, and he engaged in voter fraud during the Honduran presidential election of 2017 and 2013.

“In return, drug traffickers in Honduras were allowed to operate with virtual impunity,” Garland said. “We allege that Hernández corrupted legitimate public institutions in the country — including parts of the national police, military and national Congress.”

Hernández was arrested at his home in Tegucigalpa in February at the request of U.S. authorities. Hernandez was tied up and paraded before journalists, something many Hondurans had never seen.

Honduras’ Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a judge’s decision in favor of extradition.

“Drug trafficking fuels violent crime and addiction; it devastates families, and it ravages communities,” Garland said. “The Justice Department is committed to disrupting the entire ecosystem of drug trafficking networks that harm the American people, no matter how far or how high we must go.”

Hernández has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. In a video message released Thursday, he said, “I am innocent; I have been and I am being unjustly subjected to prosecution.”

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