Guatemalan Crime Boss Extradited to U.S.

By Dialogo
December 19, 2011

Alleged major Guatemalan drug trafficker Mario Ponce has been turned over by Honduran authorities to the United States, which was seeking him on drug-trafficking charges, an official source announced.

“The extradition judge has ordered that Guatemalan Mario Ponce be turned over (…) to the United States, and the process has been carried out,” the director of the National Penitentiary (PN), Danilo Orellana, told local reporters.

He explained that the extradition judge decided to turn the Guatemalan over to U.S. law enforcement on December 14, because the appeal filed by his defense “didn’t stick.”

Ponce “was turned over to DEA agents on the basis of Honduran law and a 1909 extradition treaty,” the director added.

The DEA agents arrived at the Tegucigalpa National Penitentiary, located in Támara, 25 km north of the capital, in helicopters, and Ponce was put on board one of the aircraft amid heavy security measures, for transport to Palmerola, a U.S. base located 70 km north of Tegucigalpa.

Ponce is charged in the Southern District of Florida with conspiracy to traffic cocaine.

The mob boss was arrested at Ramón Villeda Morales Airport in San Pedro Sula, 250 km north of the capital, on May 1, after arriving in a helicopter in which he was allegedly transporting drugs from Guatemala.

On December 8, the Honduran authorities arrested seven people who were allegedly planning to take over the Penitentiary by assault in order to free him. They were caught near the prison in two vehicles and in possession of three AK-47 rifles, tear-gas canisters, and bulletproof vests for carrying out a suicide operation in the prison, according to the Honduran authorities.