The U.S. authorities has requested the arrest and extradition of Juan Orlando Hernández, the previous Honduran president who has been accused in federal court docket in New York of receiving cash from drug cartels.
The extradition request was despatched to the Honduran Overseas Ministry on Monday, The Related Press reported. Hours later, cops surrounded the home of Mr. Hernández, who left workplace in January after his political get together was ousted in elections final yr.
However whether or not Mr. Hernandez will likely be despatched to the USA stays to be seen. The Supreme Court docket, which the previous president stacked with loyalists earlier than he left workplace, should implement any extradition requests.
In a federal courtroom in New York last year, one witness stated Mr. Hernández bragged that he was “‘going to stuff the medication up the gringos’ noses, and so they’re by no means even going to understand it.’”
The accusations towards Mr. Hernández have been made in at the least two drug-trafficking circumstances pursued by prosecutors within the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Hernández has disputed the allegations up to now.
“It should be made clear that that is an outrage,” stated Mr. Hernández’s lawyer, Hermes Ramírez, according to local news media.
“They can’t arrest him,” he stated, including that the previous president is Honduras’s consultant to the Central American Parliament, a regional political physique. “He enjoys immunity.”
By dusk Monday, convoys of police pickup vans could possibly be seen rushing towards the previous president’s house. A neighbor dwelling a couple of block away from Mr. Hernández stated that dozens of cops had surrounded the residence.
As information of the extradition request unfold by means of the capital, at the least 100 folks rushed to a major boulevard to rejoice the attainable arrest of Mr. Hernández, who’s broadly disliked, and suspected of corruption.
“Juanchi, you’re off to New York!” the protesters chanted, utilizing a nickname for the president.
Earlier on Monday, the Overseas Ministry stated on Twitter that the USA had requested for the arrest of a “Honduran politician” however didn’t specify who it was. CNN en Español confirmed the extradition request was for Mr. Hernández.
The State Division directed all questions concerning the extradition request to the Justice Division, which didn’t instantly reply to emailed questions.
With a crippled and corrupt justice system, many within the area say that prosecution in the USA is the one approach that justice will be served.
Lots of the medication being trafficked by means of Latin America find yourself in the USA, which implies that American officers can file expenses in U.S. federal courts and pursue officers with extradition requests.
Such a swift extradition request — coming simply weeks after Mr. Hernández stepped down — is uncommon, and can most certainly ship a pointed message to different governments within the area to scrub up or threat being pursued in United States courts.
Mr. Hernández’s party lost national elections final November, opening the previous president as much as prosecution in the USA. The nations have an extradition treaty.
Mr. Hernández left workplace in January and was succeeded by Xiomara Castro, the nation’s first feminine president. Ms. Castro has promised to cooperate with the USA and battle corruption within the nation.
Tackling the widespread graft that plagues a lot of Central America is a high precedence for the Biden administration, which sees it as a major purpose for the file variety of migrants heading towards the USA’ southern border.
Vice President Kamala Harris attended Ms. Castro’s inauguration last month, and it was seen as a message to different Central American governments to get on board with the Biden administration’s plan for the area or threat a frayed relation with the USA.
The U.S. Customs and Border Safety recorded greater than 300,000 crossings by Hondurans within the final fiscal yr, making the nation the second-largest supply of migrants after Mexico.
Joan Suazo contributed reporting from Tegucigalpa, Honduras.