Photo: Mario Ponce EXTRADITED
Honduras on Thursday turned over to U.S. authorities a reputed drug kingpin from Guatemala who was arrested here in May.
Mario Ponce was taken by helicopter from the National Penitentiary, north of Tegucigalpa, to the joint U.S.-Honduran airbase at Palmerola, where U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents were waiting, Security Ministry official Danilo Orellana told reporters.
The chopper carrying Ponce was escorted by two U.S. Army helicopters.
The suspect was handed over one day after Honduras’ Supreme Court rejected a motion to block the extradition.
An official at the prison turned down successive offers of $1 million and $5 million to free Ponce, while “another party” offered $7 million to have the Guatemalan killed, Orellana said, without providing any details.
Last week, police captured seven heavily armed men they suspected were planning to rescue Ponce from the National Penitentiary.
Police seized AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and gas masks from the suspects, who were traveling in three vehicles, one of them armored.
Ponce and two associates were arrested aboard a helicopter at the airport in the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula after they made an unauthorized deviation from their flight plan.
On learning that Ponce was wanted by U.S. authorities on more serious charges, Honduras held him for extradition.