• Maibort Petit

Former President could be extradited to the U.S.

Updated: Aug 15

Imagine the former president of Honduras (2014-2022) could be handed over to the authorities of the United States.

The former president is wanted by the U.S. justice system that will try him for drug trafficking crimes.

By Maibort Petit

President Hernandez
Juan Orlando Hernández will be tried in the U.S. District Court for drug trafficking, as will his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, who was sentenced to two life sentences after being found guilty of drug trafficking crimes and lying to U.S. justice, among other crimes.

This Tuesday, in the afternoon, the last protocols were made for the delivery of Hernández to the representation of the US Drug Enforcement Agency in the Central American country.

The source said that the former president will be taken on April 20, in a helicopter of the National Police, escorted by helicopters of the Air Force from his detention center, at the Headquarters of the Special Forces of the PN, to the Honduran Air Base, Coronel, Hernán Acosta Mejías de Tegucigalpa, where he will be handed over to the US authorities.

U.S. federal agents will be the ones who transfer the former president to the Air Base, José Enrique Soto Cano, Palmerola [who share the Honduran Air Force with the United States]. From that center, Juan Orlando Hernández will be transferred to New York, on a U.S. government plane (US. Marshals) by the U.S. Marshals Service.

The Judicial

A total of 15 magistrates, who make up the Plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) of Honduras signed a ruling that ratified the decision to extradite Juan Orlando Hernández, adopted by a judge of first instance on March 16, 2022.

President Hernandez

After complying with the regulations, a judge ordered the immediate surrender of citizen Juan Orlando Hernández to the United States, in collaboration with the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Defense and also the Foreign Ministry," the CSJ reported a week ago.

On Feb. 14, the United States asked the Honduran government to extradite Hernandez, accused of "violent drug trafficking conspiracy, to transport approximately 500,000 kilograms of cocaine through Honduras bound for the United States," even before he was president, between 2014 and 2022.

Since his arrest on Feb. 15, Juan Orlando Hernandez has remained in the prison of a police barracks known as "Los Cobras" in eastern Tegucigalpa. His lawyers unsuccessfully appealed the judicial decision to extradite the Supreme Court and then tried to prevent it with an appeal for amparo, which was also rejected.

The process concludes almost a month after the United States Department of State reported on February 7, 2022, the United States Department of State reported the declassification and publicity of the inclusion of the former president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández in the Engel List of corrupt and undemocratic actors in the US since July 1, 2021, because multiple credible reports reported the alleged participation of the former president in acts of corruption and drug trafficking, as well as in the use of the proceeds of these illicit activities in the facilitation of political campaigns.

Criminal activities

There were suspicions about JOH since 2004, according to what documents that were declassified reveal that indicate that he "participated in a violent drug trafficking conspiracy" at that time when he was a deputy of the National Congress of which he was even a director.

For the defense of JOH it is essential that the former president remains in Honduras and in that sense his actions revolve, among them, having brought to light the alleged 32 cases that his representative has opened in instances of his country. The lawyers sought to stop the extradition by warning that it was necessary that the complaints be investigated first and he be tried in the Central American nation.

Juan Orlando Hernández faces an experience similar to that of his brother, former deputy Juan Antonio Hernández, sentenced to life in prison for similar crimes.

The first of JOH's charges is conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the United States from a location outside the United States, as well as to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance with the intent and knowledge that such substance would be imported into that country.

The second count is for using or carrying firearms or aiding and abetting the use, carrying and possession of firearms in support of the narcotics import conspiracy of which he is charged in count one.

Third, he is accused of conspiracy to use or carry firearms in support of the narcotics import conspiracy.

Juan Orlando Hernández has persistently denied the charges against him, personally, and through his lawyers or through his wife, Ana García de Hernández, who maintains that JOH is the victim of an orchestrated revenge by Honduran drug traffickers who were extradited to the US and seek to lower their sentences.

Garcia warned that the agreement signed between the U.S. and Honduras is not a regulation that, according to law, allows the extradition of Honduran nationals. Honduran law must be applied and he recalled that the Central American country is a signatory to international treaties that protect fellow citizens from being victims of inhuman and degrading punishment.

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