Russia Condemns US Extradition of Russian Pilot

The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. on Wednesday of “kidnapping” a Russian pilot in the West African country of Liberia several weeks ago for alleged drug smuggling.

Konstantin Yaroshenko, 41, was arrested in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, in late May — by U.S. agents, Russian officials said — and then extradited to New York without notifying Russian officials first.

He has been accused of smuggling large amounts of cocaine throughout South America, Africa and Europe.

DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said Yaroshenko was apprehended May 28 by Liberian authorities, who turned him over to the DEA two days later under an arrest warrant issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry sharply condemned Yaroshenko’s arrest and extradition.

Yaroshenko’s lawyer, Alexander Bozhenko, was quoted Wednesday by RIA news agency as saying that the way Yaroshenko was arrested violated the law, and that Yaroshenko was kept tied up in a hotel room, naked and without water, for two days before his extradition.

Yaroshenko’s U.S. lawyer, Sam Schmidt, said Wednesday that it was his “understanding was he was not treated well” in Liberia after his arrest. His client is “doing OK” physically now that he is in the U.S. prison system, he added.

He said Yaroshenko was not extradited but instead was expelled by the Liberian government just before he was taken into custody by Liberian authorities and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and brought to New York.

Apparently, the DEA took Yaroshenko into custody without notifying the Russian embassy, consulate or anyone else.

Charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan allege Yaroshenko was an aircraft pilot who transported cocaine throughout South America, Africa and Europe.

In recent years, drug cartels have used West Africa as a major transit point for shipment of vast quantities of cocaine to Europe and the U.S.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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