In the Crosshairs
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A Honduran judge approved the extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez to the United States, where he is facing drug trafficking charges, Agence France-Presse reported.
The decision comes a month after the Court of the Southern District of New York requested Hernandez’s extradition – he is accused of facilitating the smuggling of about 500 tons of drugs to the US since 2004.
He faces three charges, including conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the US and conspiracy to use or carry firearms. US authorities also allege that Hernandez received millions of dollars from narco-traffickers for protection, including infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Hernandez, who governed between 2014 to 2022, was linked to the crimes during the trial of his brother, Tony, who was sentenced last year to life in prison in the US for drug trafficking.
The former president has denied the allegations and said they stem from statements made by convicted drug traffickers, out for revenge.
The right-wing leader had been a staunch US supporter and is said to have made efforts to fight drug smuggling. However, Honduras has long been a crucial transit nation for narcotics transported from South America to the US.
More recently, it has also become a place where cocaine is produced, according to BBC.
Even so, Judiciary Spokesman Melvin Duarte said the extradition can be appealed within the next three days. If it is, the Supreme Court would weigh in.