Juan Orlando Hernández, the former president of Honduras, is to be extradited to the U.S. Thursday morning, the government of Honduras announced in a press release late Wednesday night, according to TV Azteca Honduras. U.S. sources confirm the extradition is scheduled.
Hernández, the release says, will be extradited Thursday at 9 a.m. ET from Hernan Acosta Mejia airbase. He’ll then be brought to New York by authorities to face weapons and drug trafficking charges, according to a senior U.S. official. Honduras’ highest court cleared the way last month for Hernández to be sent to the U.S.after, rejecting Hernández’s appeal to stop the extradition.
Hernández was president from 2014 until his second term concluded in January. He was arrested in Honduras’ capital city of Tegucigalpa in February.
U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are expected to unseal an indictment against him this week. In recent years, they have accused Hernández of funding his political rise with profits from drug traffickers in exchange for protecting their shipments. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Hernández has insisted that statements against him have been made by drug traffickers extradited by his government who wanted revenge.
It is extremely unusual for a former head of state to be extradited to another country to face prosecution for drug and weapons trafficking. In this case, Hernández was the leader of a country whose residents have been fleeing en masse to the U.S. due in part to this very type of corruption. Honduras is also a major recipient of U.S. aid – over the past 20 years, the U.S. has given more aid to Honduras — $125 million — than any other country.