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Ex-Honduran national police chief wanted in US arrested

TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS (AP) – A former head of Honduras’ national police who was sought by United States (US) prosecutors on drug and weapons charges was arrested on Wednesday, according to the government.

Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares served as the 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.

Security Minister Ramón Sabillón confirmed Bonilla’s arrest on Wednesday afternoon at a toll plaza on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. A high-ranking police official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the arrest, said Bonilla had been under surveillance by a police intelligence unit. The official said the arrest came in response to a US extradition request.

The US 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.

A spokeswoman from the US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

Former President Hernández is currently awaiting a determination of a Honduras judge on a US extradition request also from the Southern District of New York on drug trafficking and
weapons charges.

Honduras Police Chief General Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, also known as the Tiger, or ‘El Tigre’. PHOTO: AP

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