Tegucigalpa, Apr 21 (EFE).- Honduras on Thursday handed over former President Juan Orlando Hernandez to representatives of the United States to face trial on charges of drug trafficking.
In an elaborately choreographed operation, Hernandez was transported by helicopter from a police installation to Hernan Acosta Mejia airbase, where Security Minister Ramon Sabillon formally delivered the prisoner to agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The twin-prop DEA aircraft carrying Hernandez took off at 2:18 pm.
Minutes before the extradition, his wife, Ana Garcia, posted online a video in which Hernandez again insisted on his innocence.
Hernandez, 53, was arrested at the request of the US on Feb. 15, three weeks after the end of his second four-year term as president of the Central American nation.
His brother, Tony Hernandez, was sentenced in March 2021 in the US to life in prison after being convicted of smuggling nearly 204 tons of cocaine into the country over the course of 15 years.
The court heard testimony that Tony funneled millions of dollars in bribes to then- President Hernandez, who denied the accusations of drug links and denounced his brother’s sentence as “outrageous.”
Federal prosecutors in New York charged Juan Hernandez with conspiracy to import controlled substances into the US and with two other counts pertaining to the use of automatic weapons and US-registered aircraft in furtherance of the smuggling operation.
The Honduran Supreme Court approved the extradition request on March 28 and the Constitutional Chamber rejected the ex-president’s final appeal on April 6.
Over the course of roughly 15 years, the Hernandez brothers trafficked more than 500,000 kgs (1.1 million lbs) of cocaine, according to the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa. EFE gr/dr