A former president of Honduras accused by prosecutors of once saying he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos” could face drug-trafficking and firearms charges in the U.S.
A Honduran judge authorized the extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernández to the U.S. on Wednesday night, a stunning fall from grace from a man who was sitting president of the troubled country less than three months ago.
Hernández's defense now has three days to appeal the decision to Honduras’ Supreme Court; otherwise, his next stop could be in a U.S. prison cell.
Videos shared on Twitter shows Hernández arriving at court in Honduras capital Tegucigalpa for his hearing early on Wednesday. He is seen dressed in a navy blue suit, handcuffed and escorted by three police officers holding him by both arms.
After some 10 hours of deliberation, the resolution was announced on Twitter by Honduras’ judicial authority.
Hernández was arrested in early February on charges of being part of a drug-trafficking scheme between 2004 and 2012. U.S. authorities also accuse him of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from drug-traffickers in exchange for protection. He also faces one charge for carrying, using, or aiding and abetting the use of weapons.
Hernández allegedly said he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos, according to allegations made by an assistant U.S. attorney in New York during opening arguments in the trial of drug-trafficker, Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez.
After news of his arrest spread through the country, people went out to the streets to celebrate the capture of Hernández. He faced a strong discontent from the Honduran population while in office, due to rumors of corruption inside his office and especially after his brother's arrest on drug charges.
Hernández has denied the charges.
His Twitter account, still open, pinned an audio on February 15 where Hernández thanked his supporters and said he is ready to face justice. “This is not easy. I don't wish this upon anyone,” he said.
Hernández left office in January and was succeeded by Xiomara Castro, Honduras first female president.
Court documents allege that Hernández "said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”
A motion against alleged Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes, referred to Co-Conspirator 4 as the “president” and claimed that CC-4 directed the defendant to work with his brother, Tony Hernández, who was convicted in the United States in 2019 for drug trafficking.
Former National Police Chief Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, also known as “El Tigre,” or The Tiger, was arrested on March 11 on charges related to the Hernández drug-trafficking network.
Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares was charged in the southern district of New York two years ago with protecting cocaine shipments and killing a rival drug trafficker as part of a broad-ranging drug trafficking conspiracy.
U.S. prosecutors say that Bonilla used his position to “facilitate cocaine trafficking, and used violence, including murder, to protect the particular cell of politically connected drug traffickers he aligned with,” including the former president and his brother, Tony Hernández, now servinga life sentence in the United States.