Police escort former President Juan Orlando Hernandez
'Chapo' Guzmán Documentary: Capture Of Most Powerful Drug Trafficker, When, Where To Watch Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez appeared in his first extradition hearing in Tegucigalpa, Honduras Wednesday. The United States is working to bring him into the country to face drug-trafficking charges for allegedly smuggling from Colombia and Venezuela through Honduras to the country.

Hernandez arrived in the hearing with handcuffs and shackles. People gathered in front of the justice ministry, pushing, shoving and throwing stones. The 53-year-old governed the Central American nation for eight years until last month and now faces a US extradition request issued on Tuesday that aims to force him to face drug-trafficking charges in US courts.

The prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have accused Hernandez of getting political funding through his profits from drug traffickers in exchange for protecting their shipments. He was arrested on Tuesday at the request of the US government on charges of drug trafficking, using weapons for drug trafficking and conspiracy.

Meanwhile, about 150 supporters from his National Party gathered to rally for him. "You are not alone! There is a great political party that supports you," one supporter of Hernandez's right-wing National Party (NP) told local broadcaster TSI. Meanwhile, backers of the leftist Libre Party that recently ousted the NP from power celebrated his current arrest.

Court spokesman Melvin Duarte said the judge had denied Hernandez's petition for house arrest and ruled that the former president would remain in detention at the base of a National Police special forces unit pending the outcome of the extradition process. The judge scheduled a court session for March 16, when evidence supporting the US charges will be discussed.

"How great that they arrested him, he was very corrupt," said Ilchis Álvarez, a Honduran migrant in southern Mexico. “He was in the government for 12 years, caused a lot of people to migrate, there was a lot of corruption, there was a lot of unemployment,” he added while protesting.

Hernandez has denied all wrongdoing and has previously attempted to criticize the prosecutors’ evidence, while also pointing out his past support from US officials. It was last year that a US judge sentenced Hernandez’s brother and former congressman, Tony Hernandez, to life in prison plus 30 years in a major cocaine trafficking case.

Supporters of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez shout slogans
Supporters of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez shout slogans in the vicinity of the Supreme Court of Justice, where the former president attends his first hearing on extradition requested by the United States, for allegedly being responsible for three crimes associated with drug trafficking, in Tegucigalpa, on February 16, 2022. - Honduran ex-president Juan Orlando Hernandez, detained pending a decision on his extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges, appeared Wednesday before a judge in Tegucigalpa assigned to determine his fate. Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty Images

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