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Ex-Honduran President arrested, extradited to U.S. for drug trafficking

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Former Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, has been arrested and extradited to the United States over charges related to drug trafficking and arms peddling.

A handcuffed Hernández left Honduras on an airplane with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to face legal proceedings in New York City.

He was extradited on Thursday to face drug and arms charges.

Hernández’s transport via helicopter under heavy guard, from the police base where he was held to the airport, was covered live by local television outlets, The Associated Press reported.

Some Hondurans stood outside the airport fence to watch the former president board his plane.

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, center, is taken in handcuffs to a waiting aircraft in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Thursday as he is extradited to the United States
Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, center, is taken in handcuffs to a waiting aircraft in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Thursday as he is extradited to the United States

When it took off, some were seen jumping in celebration.

The Honduras Supreme Court had ruled that the former president be extradited to the United States.

It was a spectacular fall from grace to grass for Hernández, who was once one of the United States’ strongest allies in Central America.

He served as president for eight years — a time most Hondurans recall for its government oppression and corruption.

He left office in January after eight years.

It wasn’t until Hernández’s brother Tony, a former Honduran congressman, was arrested in the U.S. on drug charges that the former president’s history as the director of a narcostate was scrutinized more seriously.

Tony Hernández was given a life sentence for cocaine trafficking in 2021.

U.S. prosecutors accused the pair of facilitating an international drug network that moved hundreds of tons of cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia, via Honduras, to the U.S.

Prosecutors say they took in millions of dollars from drug cartels, including from notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

They alleged that Hernández used the money to finance his political campaigns and engaged in voter fraud in the 2013 and 2017 Honduran presidential elections.

“In return, drug traffickers in Honduras were allowed to operate with virtual impunity,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday.

“We allege that Hernández corrupted legitimate public institutions in the country — including parts of the national police, military and national Congress.”

Hernández has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying he’s the victim of drug traffickers that his government prosecuted. Read more.

 

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