NEW YORK (AP) — A former Honduras police chief made his first appearance in a New York court on Wednesday after extradition to the United States on drug smuggling charges. You are being charged with a related crime.
Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, 62, was held without bail after a 10-minute trial before a magistrate in Manhattan’s federal court.
The lawyer appointed to represent him declined to comment outside the courtroom.
Bonilla Valladares, better known as “El Tigre” or “The Tiger”, served as the country’s top police officer between 2012 and 2013. He was arrested on March 9. He was branded by US prosecutors as a conspirator of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his brother Tony Hernandez.
Prosecutors said he was handed over to US authorities before noon on Tuesday and arrived in the New York area last night. He faces drug trafficking and weapons charges.
“Ex-Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez would not have come to power without an extensive network of corrupt colleagues,” said Anne Milgram, director of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
“These colleagues, including Bonira Baladaur, are also using their positions to smuggle cocaine into the United States and violently protect other politically linked drug traffickers,” she said in a statement. “Bonilla Valladares further betrayed the people of Honduras by using her law enforcement badge to cover up her own crimes.”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said that Bonilla Valadares’ extradition “shows that no one, including foreign presidents and police chiefs, is exempt from prosecution for crimes that, because of their position or title, contributed to the overflow of illicit drugs that cause crimes,” said US Attorney Damian Williams. ” he said. That is unfair.”
The US indictment against Bonilla Valladares was announced in April 2020. When authorities claimed he used law enforcement influences to protect cocaine shipments to the United States. Bonilla denied being a drug trafficker at the time.
He then said he would go wherever necessary to prove the charges untrue, suggesting drug traffickers were behind the charges. He cites long-standing cooperation with the US State Department as evidence that he is trusted by the US government.
On Tuesday, lawyers for the former president of Honduras made similar allegations, weeks after Hernández was extradited to New York on charges of receiving millions of dollars from 2004 to 2022 to support a drug trade that delivered hundreds of thousands of kilograms of drugs. Us
Hernandez, who led the Central American state from 2014 to 2022, has denied allegations of involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy, possession of machine guns and saboteurs, and conspiracy to possess machine guns and saboteurs. The trial was tentatively scheduled for January 17th.
Attorney Raymond Colon said outside court on Tuesday that he believed the former president was the victim of the lies of drug traffickers trying to cut lengthy sentences. He also described his clients’ longstanding support of US agencies that track drug traffickers and his willingness to allow them to be extradited to the United States.
The former president’s older brother, Tony Hernández, is serving a life sentence after being charged with drug trafficking in a federal court in New York in October 2019.