National police and special forces officers escort the former chief of the Honduran police, Juan Carlos Bonilla
Honduran Police Seize Record Drugs Haul Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty Images

Former Honduras national police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares was arrested on March 9 and is reportedly facing criminal drug trafficking charges after being accused as a co-conspirator of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez and the president's brother Tony Hernandez.

On Wednesday, Bonilla Valladares, 62, appeared in a New York courtroom after being extradited to the United States. He was detained without bail after a 10-minute proceeding in Manhattan federal court.

Bonilla Valladares, known as "El Tigre," or "The Tiger," worked as the country's top police official in 2012 and 2013. According to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, the extradition of Bonilla Valladares "demonstrates that no one is exempt by virtue of their title or position of authority — even foreign Presidents and police chiefs — from criminal prosecution for contributing to the flood of illegal narcotics into this country that causes so much harm."

Bonilla Valladares was turned over to U.S. authorities before noon on Tuesday and arrived in the New York area Wednesday. He is currently facing drug trafficking and weapons charges.

"Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez would not have risen to power and successfully benefited from massive drug proceeds had it not been for his expansive network of corrupt associates," said Anne Milgram, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"These associates, including Bonilla Valladares, likewise exploited their positions to traffic cocaine to the United States and violently protect other politically connected drug traffickers, all for their own personal gains," she said in a release. "Bonilla Valladares further betrayed the Honduran people by using his law enforcement badge to cover for his crimes."

The U.S. charges against Bonilla Valladares were announced in April 2020 after authorities alleged that he used his law enforcement power to protect all cocaine shipments to Honduras from Colombia and Venezuela that eventually reached the U.S. At the time, Bonilla firmly denied being a drug trafficker. He insisted on proving all accusations untrue and suggested that drug traffickers were behind the allegations. He pointed out his long and tight cooperation with the U.S. State Department as evidence the U.S. government trusted him.

Hernandez has also denied charges, including involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy, possession of machine guns and destructive devices, and conspiracy to possess machine guns and destructive devices.

Attorney Raymond Colon stated on Tuesday that he believed the former president was the victim of lies told by drug traffickers wanting to reduce lengthy prison sentences. He also described Hernandez's support of U.S. agencies that pursue drug traffickers and his willingness to let them be extradited to the U.S.

Meanwhile, the former president's brother is serving a life sentence after his October 2019 conviction in New York federal court on drug trafficking charges that prosecutors said amounted to state-sponsored drug dealing.

National police and special forces officers escort the former chief of the Honduran police, Juan Carlos Bonilla
National police and special forces officers escort the former chief of the Honduran police, Juan Carlos Bonilla, alias "El Tigre", as he walks towards a plane at an Air Force base to be extradited to the US, where he is wanted on drug trafficking charges, in Tegucigalpa, on May 10, 2022. Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty Images

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.