Honduras ex-president Hernández to face charges in US court

Honduras Hernandez Extradition
Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, center, is taken in handcuffs to a waiting aircraft as he is extradited to the United States, at an Air Force base in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, April 21, 2022. Honduras’ Supreme Court approved the extradition of Hernandez to the United States to face drug trafficking and weapons charges.
(AP Photo/Elmer Martinez)

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was expected to make a virtual appearance in federal court in New York on Friday to face drug trafficking and weapons charges after he was arrested in Honduras and extradited overnight to the United States.

Hernández boarded an airplane in Honduras with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday, just three months after leaving office.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland accused Hernández of abusing his position as president of Honduras “to operate the country as a narco-state.”

Hernández, who served as president of the Central American nation from 2014 through 2022, was charged in court documents with participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy, possession of machine guns and destructive devices and conspiracy to possess machine guns and destructive devices.

Hernández was arrested at his home in Tegucigalpa in February at the request of U.S. authorities. Honduras’ Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a judge’s decision favoring extradition.

His court appearance Friday in New York was expected to be virtual because of COVID-19 protocols, authorities said.

Hernández has denied any wrongdoing. In a video message released Thursday, he said, “I am innocent; I have been and I am being unjustly subjected to prosecution.”