On February 15, 2022, Honduran law enforcement authorities arrested former President Juan Orlando Hernández on an extradition warrant from the United States. The extradition warrant alleges he participated in a “violent drug-trafficking conspiracy.”
Local television stations broadcast a video of Hernandez as police escorted him from his house with his hands and feet in chains.
The extradition request alleges that through 2019, Hernández obtained bribes from Geovanny Fuentes Ramïrez. The prior week a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York sentenced Fuentes Ramïrez to life in prison for cocaine trafficking. The extradition warrant alleges the bribes were left at the presidential residence.
Hernandez promised to cooperate with Honduran justice authorities. In an audio message on Twitter he said he was “ready to collaborate and to come voluntarily.” He also said he would “confront this situation and defend myself.”
In March 2021, former Honduran congressman Tony Hernández, the brother of the former President, received a sentence of life in prison in the U.S. for drug trafficking. Testimony at the trial was that his brother when he was president received millions of dollars from drug traffickers for protection, including from Mexican narco kingpin Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman.
On February 7, 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken announced the U.S. had included the former president on the U.S.’ Corrupt and Undemocratic Actions list, under Section 353 of the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act (NTEEA), as amended.
Hermes Ramirez, counsel for the former president, said his client had immunity from prosecution as a member of the Guatemala-based Central American parliament, Parlacen. On January 27, Hernández became a member of Parlacen hours after leaving office.
On the one hand, Honduras has never denied a U.S. extradition request. In addition, Honduras depends heavily on U.S. assistance. The Biden Administration has emphasize anti-corruption in the Northern Triangle. On the other hand, the Supreme Court judge who will hear the extradition case is affiliated with the former president’s party and has a history of absolving suspects in corruption cases.  Notwithstanding the dependence of Honduras on U.S. assistance, the PRC is angling to increase its influence in Honduras, as it has done in El Salvador and most of Central America. As a result, the Hernández case is unique and warrants monitoring.
The current issue of the IELR will have a more comprehensive discussion of the case and its implications.
 Joan Suazo and Anatoly Kurmanaev, Former Honduras President Detained after a U.S. Extradition Request, N.Y. Times, Feb. 15, 2022.
 Kevin Sieff, Former Honduras president Juan Orlando Hernández arrested: U.S. seeks extradition on drug trafficking charges, Wash. Post, Feb. 16, 2022.
 Former Honduran president arrest as US seeks extradition on drug charges, France24.com, Feb. 4, 2022.
 U.S. Department of State, U.S. Actions against Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez for Corruption, Feb. 7, 2022. Bruce Zagaris, U.S. Places Former Honduran President on List of Corrupt Officials and He Agrees to “Collaborate” on Extradition, 38 Int’l Enforcement L. Rep. 52 (2022).
 Former Honduran president arrest as US seeks extradition on drug charges, supra.
 Suazo and Kurmanaev, supra.
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