A former police intelligence agent became the eighth criminal suspect that Honduras has extradited to the United States to face drug trafficking charges in just over a year.
Wilmer Carranza Bonilla was arrested in June 2015, accused of working with the Valle Valle drug trafficking organization. On October 15, he was handed over to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and put on a plane to the US, where a federal court in Virginia had indicted him for involvement in money laundering and drug trafficking.
That same court had previously indicted Miguel Arnulfo and Luis Alonso Valle Valle, the two brothers who lead the drug trafficking clan.
Honduras passed a law in 2012 that permitted the extradition of suspects charged with drug trafficking and terrorism, but the first alleged drug trafficker was not sent to face trial in the US until May 2014. Since then, however, Honduras has captured and extradited several high-profile drug traffickers, including the leaders of the Valle Valle clan.
InSight Crime Analysis
It is fairly unusual for a Latin American nation to extradite a security official to the US to face charges there. Colombia has occasionally done so, but there are few comparable cases from other countries struggling with a vibrant transnational drug trade, such as Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Carranza's extradition comes as another example of how successfully the US has managed to prod Honduras into taking action against powerful narco-clans.
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The Valle Valles were a prominent drug trafficking organization known for their penchant for paying off officials. Notably, when the youngest brother of the Valle Valle clan was arrested in October 2014, police said they had found a photo of him alongside the head of the Transit Police in Copan, the state where the group based its operations.
Thus, Carranza Bonilla is unlikely to have been the only friend to the Valle Valles in the security forces. Nor was Carranza Bonilla a very high-ranking official within the police, although he did work in a unit that investigated drug trafficking crimes. Given the Valle Valles' wealth and extent of influence, it is worth questioning whether there were more powerful figures within the police, military, and political realm that they had manged to corrupt, and whether Honduras will continue to investigate who else the Valle Valle allies may include.