Honduras Ex-President Juan Orlando Hernandez Extradited to NYC in Trafficking Case – NBC New York

Juan Orlando Hernandez, who was president of Honduras for eight years, arrived at an airport north of New York Metropolis in handcuffs late Thursday as he was extradited to face costs in a sweeping narcotics and federal drug trafficking investigation.

Hernandez, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing, was escorted underneath heavy guard by Drug Enforcement Administration brokers to an SUV ready to take him to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Heart forward of his preliminary courtroom look.

That look in New York’s Southern District is predicted sooner or later Friday.

The extraordinary sight of a former head of state in handcuffs, escorted onto a ready U.S. authorities aircraft by brokers of the DEA adopted the arrest of Hernandez in February at his dwelling in Tegucigalpa lower than a month after he stepped down from workplace.

He strongly denies any wrongdoing.

U.S. Legal professional Common Merrick Garland mentioned Hernandez “abused his position as President of Honduras from 2014 through 2022 to operate the country as a narco-state.”

(For more in Spanish from Honduran newspaper Diario La Prensa on Hernandez’s arrest, click here)

The fees mentioned he acquired tens of millions of {dollars} for shielding the drug traffickers from arrest and for facilitating their shipments.

U.S. Legal professional Damian Williams mentioned that Hernandez “partnered with some of the world’s most prolific narcotics traffickers to build a corrupt and brutally violent empire” that trafficked a whole bunch of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine to the U.S.

A kind of alleged companions was the infamous El Chapo, the previous chief of the Sinaloa Cartel now in jail in the U.S. Prosecutors mentioned that as Hernandez was campaigning for president in 2013, he accepted a $1 million bribe from El Chapo, as he promised the drug lord would find a way to proceed working in Honduras.

“Hernandez is alleged to have used his vast political powers to protect and assist drug traffickers and cartel leaders by alerting them to possible interdictions, and sanctioning heavily-armed violence to support their drug trade,” Williams mentioned.

In one other assembly he held with a violent and large-scale Honduran cocaine trafficker, Hernandez took bribes to guarantee drug trafficking might proceed and to present safety. The then-president even really helpful the drug lord associate with one other trafficker in order that all of them might “stuff the drugs right up the noses of the gringos,” in accordance to prosecutors.

A Honduran choose dominated final month that he could possibly be extradited to the U.S. As soon as the aircraft arrived in New York, Hernandez was to be taken to a federal courtroom in Manhattan to formally face the fees.

Getty Pictures

Former President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez is escorted by Members of the Police Particular Forces to be extradited to U.S.to face costs of taking bribes from drug traffickers at Honduran Nationwide Directorate of Particular Forces on April 21, 2022 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Picture by Jorge Cabrera/Getty Pictures)

Hernandez faces cocaine trafficking and weapons costs, which might land him in jail for all times, if convicted.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram referred to as Hernandez “a central figure in one of the largest and most violent cocaine-trafficking conspiracies in the world.” Milgram went on to say that he “used drug-trafficking proceeds to finance his political ascent and, once elected President, leveraged the Government of Honduras’ law enforcement, military, and financial resources to further his drug-trafficking scheme.”

His brother, Juan Antonio Hernandez, was sentenced in New York final yr to life in jail upon conviction for drug trafficking and weapons violations. Throughout that trial, prosecutors mentioned President Hernandez agreed to use his nation’s army forces to present safety for drug traffickers.

In a video assertion posted on social media, Hernandez mentioned he’s harmless and that he had been arrange by drug traffickers. The previous president mentioned on social media this yr that the U.S. costs had been primarily based on the claims of “drug traffickers and confessed assassins who were extradited by my government.”

The extradition of Hernandez to the US marked one of many few instances a former head of state was introduced right here to face costs. In 1990, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was arrested on drug trafficking costs throughout a US army operation. He was convicted in federal courtroom in Miami.

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