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Ex-Honduras top cop on drugs charge

Regional 17 Mar, 2022 Follow News

Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares

A former Honduras police chief has been arrested and is expected to be extradited to the United States over suspected drug trafficking which could lead to him giving explosive evidence in the case against recently-detained former president Juan Orlando Hernández, who is accused of drug crimes by the US government.

Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, the former director of Honduras police better known as “El Tigre,” was arrested at a toll booth outside the capital city, Tegucigalpa, on March 9. He faces extradition to the United States, where prosecutors accuse him of participating in a state-sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy implicating top Honduras officials, including Hernández. It comes just weeks after Honduras police arrested the former president, also wanted for extradition on drug trafficking charges.

US prosecutors first charged Bonilla with drug trafficking and related arms offences in April 2020. The Justice Department accuses the former police chief of abusing his position within Honduras law enforcement to protect cocaine shipments on behalf of the former president and his brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández Alvarado – a convicted drug trafficker now serving a life sentence in the US. American prosecutors later submitted an extradition request for Bonilla in May 2021. But Bonilla was already in hiding. He has previously denied the accusations made by US attorneys.

Hours after his arrest, Honduras police paraded Bonilla before press handcuffed at the wrist and ankles, emulating scenes from just weeks earlier when authorities detained Hernández in shackles outside his home in Tegucigalpa.

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