- Juan Orlando Hernandez The former Honduran president surrenders to the police after the US extradition request
There were no surprises in Honduras and the former president Juan Orlando Hernandez remain in provisional prison until March 16, when the hearing for the presentation and evacuation of evidence is held before the US request for his extradition to that step This was decided by the Extradition Judge of First Instance edwin ortezwho decreed his admission to the Cobras Special Operations Command, located in Tegucigalpa and where the former president spent his first night after being arrested this Tuesday at his home during a strong police operation in which the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) participated.
In that same place, he must remain confined until the hearing is held to determine whether or not he is extradited to the United States, where he is accused of being part of a conspiracy since 2004 that “transported more than 500,000 kilograms of cocaine through Honduras to the United States”.
The US Embassy in Honduras detailed the same day of his arrest the charges related to drug trafficking and organized crime faced by the person who would govern the Central American country between 2014 and 2022 and who left power on January 27, thus losing his presidential immunity. Nor did his arrest prevent the fact that he was sworn in as a deputy in the Central American Parliament (Parlacen)despite the fact that his lawyer argued that he had diplomatic immunity for holding this position.
Specifically, the US Embassy assured in a note that Hernández “participated in a violent drug trafficking conspiracy to receive shipments of multiple tons of cocaine sent to Honduras from Colombia and Venezuelaamong other places.” Thus, he indicated that the drug was moved “by air and sea routes to transport it to the west of Honduras towards the border with Guatemala and finally to the United States.”
First, he is charged with conspiring to traffic a controlled substance into the United States from a location outside the country, manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance with the intent and knowledge that it would be illegally imported. Second, you are accused of using or carrying firearms or aiding and instigate the use, carrying andpossession of machine guns and destructive devices in support of the narcotics importation conspiracy. The third charge against him is conspiring to use or carry firearms in support of the conspiracy to import narcotics.
Minutes before he was arrested, Hernndez posted a message through his Twitter account in which he acknowledged that “this is not an easy time and I wish it on no one.” However, he said he was “ready and ready to collaborate, to be able to face this situation and to be able to defend myself.” Those were his last words before the police broke into his residence and took out the former president, who was put in a bulletproof vest and put handcuffs on his feet and hands. Chained, he was taken to the Supreme Court of Justice, where his rights were read to him and Judge Edwin Ortez, who had issued the arrest warrant, ordered his admission to prison until the hearing held this Wednesday in which he ordered preventive detention.
His defense requested that he benefit from house arrest, although the judge opposed it, considering that this figure cannot be applied when there is an extradition request from another country, so only provisional detention was possible. Hernández arrived at the Supreme Court of Justice very calm and without handcuffs, even greeting the staff of this institution. He was accompanied by a strong police force while several people shouted at the entrance to the judicial building ‘JOH out’, in reference to the acronym of his name. Also, dozens of sympathizers of the former president and the National Party they gathered in front of the Supreme Court of Justice in front of a poster that read ‘Juan Orlando we are with you’. For ten minutes, there were clashes between those who supported Hernndez and his family and those who were celebrating his arrest, to the point that there were beatings with sticks and the throwing of stones and bottles, which forced the police to intervene to prevent disturbances.
The arrest and imprisonment of Hernndez took place after last Monday, the US requested his extradition after being accused of links with drug trafficking by the justice of that country. Since then, various police and police patrols military police They surrounded his residence in the San Ignacio neighborhood of Tegucigalpa with assault rifles, waiting for the Supreme Court of Justice to appoint a judge to order his arrest.
This extradition request came a few days after it emerged that Hernández was left without a visa to travel to the United States, after the State Department of that country withdrew it by including him in the list. List of Corrupt and Undemocratic ActorsIt takes effect from July 1, 2021 when he still held the Presidency of Honduras.
The State Department justified this decision based on “multiple credible media reports” suggesting that Juan Orlando Hernández, who governed Honduras between January 27, 2014 and January 27 of this year, “has engaged in a significant corruption by committing or facilitating acts of corruption and drug trafficking and by using the proceeds of illicit activities to facilitate political campaigns”.
The name of the former president and his possible links with drug trafficking came to light in the process that was carried out against his brother Tony Hernndez, who was convicted by a federal court of New York on March 30 of last year to life in prison for large-scale cocaine trafficking, two years after he was found guilty. That same day, outside the court, a group of people demanded the extradition of the then President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández, whom the prosecutors in the case also accused of having participated, together with his brother, in the shipment of 185 tons of drugs to Honduras. USA.
Specifically, the judgment states that “the defendant (Tony Hernandez) was a Honduran congressman who, along with his brother Juan Orlando Hernández, played a leading role in a violent, state-sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy.
Likewise, on February 8, Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramrez was sentenced to life imprisonment in New York, who will also have to pay a fine of 151.7 million dollars for sending “tons” of cocaine to the United States in collusion with high-ranking drug traffickers. political charges.
Thus, during the trial against Fuentes Ramírez, held in March of last year, the assistant prosecutor of New York Jacob Gutwillig indicated that the former president agreed to an alliance with the Honduran cartel of ‘The Cachiros’ to introduce thousands of kilos of cocaine into the US in exchange for bribes and protection for drug traffickers using security forces and police agencies. For this reason, he came to brand Honduras as a “narco-state.”
In the trial against Fuentes, a former Honduran drug trafficker who led the ‘Los Cachiros’ cartel and who now collaborates with the US government, Devis Leonel Rivera, said that while he was in jail with Geovanny Fuentes, he told him that “he had evidence, photographs and videos to show how Juan Orlando was receiving shipments of cocaine from Colombia at the airports of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa“.
In the sentence against Fuentes Ramrez, it is established that “he was found guilty of importing tons of cocaine into the United States and protecting his illicit businesses with machine guns,” while noting that “he bribed high-ranking Honduran officials and was responsible for brutal acts of violence and murders.”
“PUT THE DRUGS TO THE GRINGOS IN THEIR OWN NOSES”
Throughout the trial against Fuentes, it transpired that, in one of his conversations with Juan Orlando Hernndez, the latter told him that they were going to “put drugs under the gringos’ own noses” and they were “not going to even notice.” On March 22, 2021, the jury made public its ruling in which it was revealed that Fuentes paid around 2013 at least 25,000 dollars divided into two bribes to Juan Orlando Hernández when he was president of the Honduran Congress and candidate for the Presidency. Prosecutors went so far as to say that every Honduran president since 2006 has received drug traffickers bribes in exchange for protection and the promise not to be extradited.
Despite this, Hernández was never formally charged and has always claimed to be innocent, which is why he framed Rivera’s statements in revenge for his fight against drug trafficking, since, during his eight-year term, dozens of Honduran drug traffickers were extradited. To USA. Precisely, the former president is right now in the same prison to which the drug traffickers arrested during his two terms of office were transferred and who, like him, were claimed by the US justice system.
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