The Cocaine Queen of Honduras Was Just Extradited to the US

Herlinda Bobadilla, alias “La Chinda,” and her sons allegedly ran a cocaine smuggling ring that helped move cocaine from South America to the U.S.
Members of the Honduran Special Forces escort Honduran alleged drug trafficer Herlinda Bobadilla, upon her arrival in Tegucigalpa, on May 15, 2022.
Members of the Honduran Special Forces escort Honduran alleged drug trafficer Herlinda Bobadilla, upon her arrival in Tegucigalpa, on May 15, 2022. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Honduras just put one of its most notorious suspected drug bosses on a plane to the United States.

Herlinda Bobadilla, alias “La Chinda,” is the 62-year-old alleged matriarch of the Montes drug cartel. She allegedly ran a cocaine trafficking network with her sons that used a fleet of planes, trucks, and boats to move product from South America north toward the U.S. Her extradition comes a little over two months after her arrest.

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Bobadilla and her family allegedly worked in the drug trade as far back as 2006, according to U.S. authorities, but its roots may go back even further. The Montes cartel was reportedly founded in the 1980s by Pedro García Montes, a Honduran national who worked with Colombia’s Cali Cartel. Assassins gunned down García Montes on a beach in Colombia in 2004. The group then reportedly was taken over by his cousin Alex Montes—a fourth son of Bobadilla. Alex Montes died of a heart attack in 2014.

Over the years the family played an important role in cocaine smuggling routes. They allegedly received shipments of cocaine mostly from Colombia and Venezuela, then worked with their local contacts to move the product through Honduras and Guatemala to Mexican cartels. The Mexican cartels would then smuggle the cocaine into the U.S.

Honduran authorities originally captured Bobadilla in the mountains of the northeastern province of Colon on May 15. Another one of her sons, Tito Montes, was killed during the operation after he opened fire on police, according to authorities. Authorities had reportedly received numerous tips after the U.S. government placed a $5 million bounty on each of the heads of Bobadilla and Tito Montes, along with a third son named Juan Carlos Montes, on May 2. Juan Carlos Montes remains on the lam. A fourth son, Noe, was extradited to the U.S. in 2019 and is serving a 37-year-sentence for his role in the organization’s illicit activities.

The extradition of Bobadilla is the latest from the new government of Xiomara Castro, who entered office in January. Castro vowed to end narco-corruption once she was in office.

Within weeks of entering office, her predecessor Juan Orlando Hernández was arrested for allegedly being involved in the drug trade while serving as the president of Honduras from January 2014 until this past January. U.S. authorities had tried numerous Honduran nationals on drug charges tied to Hernández during his presidency, including his brother Tony. Tony Hernández is now serving a life sentence in the U.S.

Two months after the former president’s arrest, he too was extradited to the U.S. in April.

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