On January 27, after eight years, Juan Orlando Hernández left office as former president of Honduras, taking over Xiomara Castro, the first woman in history to be proclaimed president of that country.
In July 2021, the United States included Hernández in the Engel list, which includes corrupt and anti-democratic individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, who are prohibited from entering that country. However, last February 14, the U.S. went a step further, requesting his extradition, for three crimes linked to drug trafficking, specifically of introducing 500 tons of cocaine to the U.S. market since 2004, in addition to using or carrying firearms, machine guns, and destructive devices; and conspiring to use firearms to import narcotics into that country.
The Attorney General’s Office states that Hernández received direct and indirect support from drug traffickers to finance his political campaigns since he was a member of the National Congress in 2005. There is talk of at least US$7,415,000.
These charges were being investigated in the statements of confessed drug traffickers as part of investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
His brother, former congressman “Tony” Hernández, was sentenced in March 2021 to life imprisonment in the United States for the same crimes, and only in this process against his brother the former president was named at least 104 times.
Faced with this, the former president rejects the charges and attributes them to the revenge of drug lords that his government extradited and who served as witnesses against his brother. This is because between 2014 and 2021, 28 drug lords were extradited and 31 others were handed over to the United States, while 41,240 kg of cocaine were seized, among other achievements of his fight against drug trafficking.
The former president’s house was surrounded by police, then he was arrested with handcuffs and chains and transferred to a prison in the Special Operations Command known as Los Cobras, in the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, where he must remain by decision of a judge.
The request has no expiration date, so he will spend a month under provisional detention in Honduras and possibly more until he awaits the court’s final decision.