TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- A judge in Honduras on Friday ordered the extradition to the United States of the country's former national police chief on drug trafficking and weapons charges.
Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares served as the Central American country’s top police official in 2012 and 2013. Better known as “El Tigre, ” or “The Tiger,” Bonilla faced allegations of human rights abuses during his time in command.
Bonilla was arrested March 9.
The United States had requested Bonilla’s arrest and extradition in May of last year on drug and weapons charges. Prosecutors labeled him a co-conspirator of former President Juan Orlando Hernández and the president’s brother Tony Hernández. The case has developed over years in the Southern District of New York.
Bonilla has three days to appeal the decision to Honduras' Supreme Court. Former President Juan Orlando Hernández lost just such an appeal and is awaiting his own extradition to the United States.
U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan announced charges against Bonilla in April 2020, alleging that he used his law enforcement clout to protect U.S.-bound shipments of cocaine. Bonilla denied at the time being a drug trafficker.
He said then he would go wherever necessary to prove the accusations untrue and suggested drug traffickers were behind the accusations. He held up his long cooperation with the U.S. State Department as proof he was someone the U.S. government trusted.
Bonilla was named head of Honduras’ National Police in May 2012 by President Porfirio Lobo, and served through December 2013. He was removed when Hernández took over as president.