Extradited Honduran ex-President Hernandez on plane to US

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Extradited Honduran ex-President Hernandez on plane to US

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was extradited to the US on Thursday, the Justice Department said, reported DW, quoting news agencies AP and Reuters.

He was charged with alleged participation in a cocaine-importation conspiracy and related firearms offenses.

Hernandez was president of Honduras from 2014 to 2022. He was once touted by US authorities as a key ally in the war on drugs.

What are the charges against Hernandez?

"The indictment alleges that Hernandez abused his positions in the Honduran government to partner with some of the largest and most violent drug traffickers in the world to traffic hundreds of thousands of kilograms of cocaine through Honduras for distribution in the United States," the Justice Department said.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleged that Hernandez received millions of dollars from drug trafficking organizations, including from the former leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Prosecutors said that Hernandez used the funds to enrich himself and finance his political campaigns, engaging in electoral fraud in 2013 and 2017.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Hernandez operated Honduras as a "narco-state."

A 'historic day' for Honduras

Retired National Police commissioner Henry Osorto Canales said that although the extradition was an embarrassment for Honduras, it was also a historic day.

"This is a start because it has begun with the largest political piece that the country had and logically the rest of the pieces are going to fall, at least those closest [to Hernandez]," Osorto said.

Hernandez's brother Tony Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison in the same US court on similar charges.

Hernandez's conservative National Party was defeated in Honduras' general election in November 2021, losing both the presidency and the legislature. Xiomara Castro of the left-wing Libre party was sworn in as his replacement in January 2022.

Hernandez has denied the charges against him, targeting the new government in a video released before his extradition, saying "It is regrettable that those who turned Honduras into one of the most violent countries on the face of the Earth … now want to be heroes."

Meanwhile his family protested his innocence in a statement, arguing he was a "victim of revenge by the drug traffickers he himself had extradited or forced to flee the United States."

Hernandez appealed his extradition but Honduras' Supreme Court upheld it.

Extradited Honduran ex-President Hernandez on plane to US

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