Honduran ex-President Loses Appeal to Stop Extradition to the U.S.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — The Honduran Supreme Court docket ratified on Monday the US’ extradition request for former President Juan Orlando Hernández, setting the stage for what might turn into the best profile drug trafficking case in New York because the trial of the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín Guzmán, referred to as El Chapo.

In a unanimous ruling, the courtroom rejected a movement from Mr. Hernández’s legal professionals to dam the extradition request filed in February by the US. The choice exhausted the previous president’s final authorized recourse to keep away from dealing with trial overseas.

U.S. officers have accused Mr. Hernández, who stepped down in January after his celebration suffered an awesome defeat within the November common election, of colluding with drug cartels to ship tons of cocaine to the US in return for monetary assist for his political celebration, in keeping with the extradition request.

U.S. officers say that beneath Mr. Hernández, Honduras has emerged as one of many largest medication transit hubs in Latin America and that the previous president allowed cartels to penetrate the best echelons of his nation’s authorities.

Collusion with cartels has worsened Honduras’ already power corruption and undermined its democracy, contributing to mass migration from Honduras and contributing to Mr. Hernández’s celebration’s loss on the polls final yr.

His successor, Xiomara Castro, has promised to overtake what she referred to as a “narco state” constructed by Mr. Hernández.

Honduran police surrounded the home of the previous president simply minutes after Ms. Castro’s officers mentioned they obtained the extradition request, on Feb. 15.

The previous president was led from his house in shackles later that day, surprising a Central American nation accustomed to officers working with impunity. As spontaneous celebrations broke out that night, within the capital, Tegucigalpa, Ms. Castro’s supporters chanted, “Juancho goes to New York,” calling Mr. Hernández by his nickname.

In a handwritten letter, Mr. Hernández wrote that he’s an harmless sufferer of revenge by the drug cartels, whose extradited members made false statements to U.S. prosecutors to punish him for his battle in opposition to organized crime.

The letter, which was printed by Mr. Hernández’s spouse on social media on Monday, additionally conveyed his resignation to a long run in jail. “I conclude that by dealing with three life sentences, I might turn into a strolling useless,” he wrote.

Whereas Ms. Castro has moved swiftly in opposition to officers within the former administration who have been implicated in crimes, she has to this point proven little want to punish allies, darkening the notion of her anti-corruption guarantees, mentioned Honduran analysts.

The extradition request, introduced to Honduras’s Supreme Court docket and seen by The New York Instances, claims that Mr. Hernández participated in a “violent drug-trafficking conspiracy” that since 2004 has transported 500 tons of cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia to the US by way of Honduras. The doc claims that Mr. Hernández obtained thousands and thousands of {dollars} in bribes for facilitating the shipments and shielding traffickers from prosecution.

The previous president’s brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, is serving a life sentence in the US for cocaine trafficking. One other convicted cocaine trafficker who implicated the previous president, Geovanny Fuentes, received a life sentence earlier this year.

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