The federal prosecutor’s office announced Tuesday that it will charge a former president and other senior officials with illegally extraditing a drug trafficker to the United States.
Never before has a former Honduran president faced similar charges. The case grew out of the kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico in 1985.
The prosecutor’s office said in a communique that it will bring charges of kidnapping, torture, abuse of authority and violation of the constitution against former President Jose Azcona del Hoyo and other officials, including the former armed forces chief, Gen. Humberto Regalado Hernandez, and the current national police chief, Col. Julio Cesar Chavez.
The charges, which could bring a prison term as long as 12 years, are to be filed within 15 days.
The Honduran Constitution says that no citizen can be extradited or turned over to a foreign country.
Drug trafficker Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros was spirited out of the country in April 1988, allegedly with the participation of senior officials.
U.S. agents seized him at his Tegucigalpa house and took him to the U.S.-run air base at Palmerola. From there he was flown to the Dominican Republic and then to New York.
A judge in Los Angeles in 1990 sentenced Matta to life in prison after convicting him of conspiracy, possession and distribution of narcotics, as well as kidnapping-related charges.
U.S. prosecutors said Matta was a high-level trafficker who helped smuggle Colombian cocaine through Mexico to the United States.
The U.S. courts found that he attended one of the meetings at which Mexican drug traffickers discussed the kidnapping of Camarena, who was tortured and killed in February 1985.