Police Arrest Former Honduran President After US Extradition Request

Debbie Hill/Pool via REUTERS

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Police arrested former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Tuesday after the U.S. submitted an extradition request based on drug charges.

Hernandez left office less than a month ago, but Honduran police took him from his home in handcuffs and shackles Tuesday. The U.S. has charged Hernandez with drug trafficking, using weapons for drug trafficking, and conspiracy to use weapons in drug trafficking in the case, according to the Associated Press.

Honduran Security Minister Ramón Sabillón alleges that Hernandez conspired “with cartels to traffic (drugs) and corrupt many public institutions, which led to social deterioration and undermined the application of justice in Honduras,” the AP reported.

Hernandez announced his intention to surrender to authorities and be extradited to the U.S. in a voice recording he posted to his Twitter account Tuesday morning. (RELATED: Biden Admin Plans To Direct $861 Million To Central American Countries So That Their People Won’t Invade The Border)

“I am ready to collaborate and voluntarily arrive with their accompaniment at the moment that the natural judge appointed by the honorable Supreme Court of Justice decides it, Hernández said, according to a CNN translation. “To be able to face this situation and defend myself.”

U.S. prosecutors have long alleged that Hernandez rose to power in Honduras thanks largely to his involvement in drug trafficking. The U.S. sentenced Hernandez’s brother, Juan Antonio Hernandez, to live in prison for drug trafficking in March 2021. U.S. officials described Antonio’s crimes as “state-sponsored drug trafficking” during his sentencing hearing, according to the AP.

The arrest comes weeks after Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Honduras to participate in the inauguration of Hernandez’s successor, President Xiomara Castro. Castro is a socialist who has faced criticism for her ties to antisemitism.

Castro’s running-mate, First Vice President-elect Salvador Nasralla, claimed during a 2019 debate that Jews control the global financial system, and Nasralla’s wife, Iroshka Elvir, has also described Hitler as a “great leader.”

Elvir later apologized for the statement.

“When I talked about Hitler I talked about his leadership because, to my understanding, he did not do anything good,” Iroshka Elvir, Nasralla’s wife, wrote in a 2017 letter according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.