A judge in Honduras has granted a U.S. request to extradite former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez to face drug trafficking and weapons charges.
The decision Wednesday came a month after Honduran authorities arrested Hernandez at his home in Tegucigalpa.
Hernandez has denied any wrongdoing and can appeal the judge’s ruling.
The request said Hernández, who left office last month, was wanted in connection to a “violent drug-trafficking conspiracy.”
The U.S. extradition request said that since 2004, Hernandez allowed tons of cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia to travel through Honduras on its way to the United States, while protecting drug traffickers who were under investigation, in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes.
Hernandez was repeatedly implicated as a co-conspirator in his brother’s 2019 drug trafficking trial by New York prosecutors.
The brother, former Honduran Congressman Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, was convicted on October 18, 2019, and sentenced to life in prison for cocaine importation, weapons, and false statements offenses.
Also convicted in the Southern District of New York was Juan Manuel Avila Meza,, a former member of the Honduran National Police, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison on March 29, 2021, for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.
A high-ranking government official in the Dominican Republic whose positions have included Vice Consul of the Dominican Republic to Germany, Consul General of the Dominican Republic to Jamaica, and president of the National Christian Movement was sentenced on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, to 179 months in prison for using his government position and contacts to import cocaine into the United States.
“Jeremias Jimenez Cruz abused his position as a government official to traffic vast amounts of cocaine into the United States,” said Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Today Jimenez Cruz was rightly sentenced to 15 years in prison for his crime.”