Mexican judges back extradition suspected drug queen to the US after previous attempts failed

June 8, 2012

The Washington Post on June 7, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — A panel of Mexican judges on Thursday agreed to the extradition of a suspected drug trafficker known as the “Queen of the Pacific,” who is wanted in the United States on cocaine-related charges.

The three federal appellate judges said Sandra Avila Beltran could be tried outside of Mexico, but only on one of the two charges prosecutors sought.

Avila cannot be tried for the seizure of more than nine tons of U.S.-bound cocaine off a vessel in Mexico’s western port of Manzanillo because a Mexican judge acquitted her in that case in December 2010. An appeals court upheld the verdict last August.

Previous requests to extradite the high-profile suspect have been denied twice by a panel and then by a judge, who argued that the confiscation of the nine tons of cocaine would inevitably be part of the foreign trial.

But the judges on Thursday ruled that Beltran has to answer to a charge stemming from several seizures in Chicago in 2001 that amounted to 100 kilograms of cocaine. The 2004 indictment in the Southern District of Florida does not specify Beltran’s role in the drug-dealing case.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department must re-file the extradition request to leave out the charge related to the Manzanillo seizure. The department did not respond on Thursday to a request by The Associated Press for comment.

Avila remains in a prison in the Mexican state of Nayarit, pending trial for a separate money-laundering charge. It was not immediately clear how Mexican prosecutors would proceed with that charge.

Avila, who was arrested in 2007 sipping coffee in a Mexico City diner, has said she is innocent. Her attorney could not be immediately reached for fresh comment.

Her case is widely known in Mexico because Avila is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, “the godfather” of Mexican drug smuggling who is serving a 40-year sentence for trafficking and the murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena in 1985.

Prosecutors have alleged that Avila spent more than a decade working her way to the top of Mexico’s drug trade. They say her romance with Colombian Juan Diego Espinoza brought together Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel with Colombia’s Norte del Valle.

The Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been locked in a vicious fight with violent Los Zetas gang in several regions of the country.

In the northern state of Tamaulipas, 14 bodies were abandoned Thursday inside a bus near the city hall building of Ciudad Mante. Soldiers deployed in the area found a message in which a gang took responsibility for the killings, according to a Tamaulipas statement. It did not say which gang or give more details.

Drug cartels often leave messages in crime scenes as a threat to enemies.

The bodies of the three women and 11 men have not been identified.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it is placing financial sanctions on a wife and son of Guzman, who is Mexico’s most-wanted man.

The department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that it had designated Maria Alejandrina Salazar Hernandez and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, 26, under the U.S. Kingpin Act. That bars American citizens from making business transactions with them and allows authorities to freeze their assets in the U.S.

Guzman escaped prison in 2001 and has evaded authorities ever since, moving from hideout to hideout as he directs the operations of his powerful cartel. The U.S. and Mexican government have been intensifying their actions against Guzman’s family in recent months.

Authorities in the U.S. and Mexico have said they believe Guzman has children with several partners, including an 18-year-old woman whom he married in an elaborate public ceremony in 2007. The Treasury Department described Salazar Hernandez, 53, as a wife of Guzman, without providing details.

The department last month announced sanctions against Guzman’s sons Ivan Archivaldo “El Chapito” Guzman Salazar, 31, and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, 22.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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

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How Colombia is busting drug cartels

January 18, 2012

CNN on January 18, 2012 released the following:

“By William C. Rempel, Special to CNN

(CNN) — Gruesome and seemingly endless accounts of violence in Mexico have obscured one notable bright spot in Latin America’s high-stakes struggle with powerful drug gangs. In Colombia, once home to the world’s biggest cocaine cartels, new crime organizations are being picked apart with silent efficiency — aided by Bogota’s enthusiastic embrace of extradition.

In recent years, more than 1,300 of Colombia’s top crime bosses and their most dangerous enforcers have been sent north to face trafficking charges in the United States, a dramatic turnabout from the 1990s when extradition was outlawed under coercive pressure from the Medellin and Cali cartels.

Traffickers who might have continued to operate their drug organizations from luxury prison cells near their Colombian homes find themselves serving extended terms far away in U.S. penitentiaries without wall-to-wall carpets, big-screen TVs or easy phone access. Many offer to become witnesses hoping to reduce their sentences.

The result has been a steady erosion of organized crime’s capabilities in Colombia — a lesson for Mexico and other countries in the region threatened by drug gangs. Mexico’s historic reluctance to extradite its citizens to the United States should be reassessed in the face of Colombia’s success.

The beauty of extradition as practiced by Colombia is not its power to stop drug smuggling. There is scant evidence it has had much direct effect in that regard. But it continues to splinter the leadership of trafficking gangs, keeping them in a perpetual state of rebuilding. In short, extradition disorganizes organized crime.

And that’s what makes it such a winning strategy in a country once thoroughly compromised by cartel threats and bribes. In those days, barely 20 years ago, the Medellin and Cali cartels vied for power with the Bogota government that too often seemed to be a hostage to criminal forces. Extradition became the prize they fought over.

Pablo Escobar, once the most feared thug in the drug world, was so afraid of being carted off for trial in Florida or Texas or New York that he demanded an end to extradition. He famously insisted that he preferred “the grave in Colombia” to a prison cell in the States. But when his demands were unheeded, Escobar launched a terror campaign of political assassination, socialite kidnappings, and deadly bombings.

While Escobar went to war, rival Cali cartel bosses went to the bank. They spread favors of cash, women and Caribbean vacations to any and all receptive politicians. Democracy was no match for the combined forces of corruption and intimidation. Colombia capitulated to the drug kings and let cartel lawyers rewrite portions of the national constitution to outlaw extradition.

It was banned for more than six years until restored in December 1997. More recently, its use soared as part of former President Alvaro Uribe’s campaign to disarm and demobilize narco-trafficking paramilitary groups. And he put extradition processing on a fast track after discovering that imprisoned gangsters were still running criminal enterprises from their Colombian jails.

Colombia remains highly motivated today by fear of a return to the bad old days when criminal demands trumped national interests. And its success has been noticed. Mexico is showing more willingness to extradite Mexican nationals accused of major trafficking offenses in the U.S., but its numbers are small compared with Colombia’s.

About a dozen Mexican drug bosses are in various stages of extradition, a cumbersome and often frustrating process that can take two to five years. U.S. authorities complain that, among other things, Mexico requires excessive documentation before approving extradition applications — notably the identities of certain key witnesses that can jeopardize their safety.

Some of the lingering reluctance comes from national pride, from the conviction that Mexico should and can take care of its own crime problems. To that end, Mexican anti-narcotics units have been beefed up and security at its federal prisons improved. But that’s not enough.

“There’s no prison anywhere in Mexico or Colombia that puts these guys out of business like U.S. prisons,” says one American law enforcement official.

There is a cost, of course. Federal prosecutions and extended incarcerations are expensive. Yet, what are the alternatives? When Colombia was overrun by cartels, the U.S. poured in a billion dollars of aid to help a friend and ally fight back. Recently, Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested sending U.S. troops to help Mexico, an option loaded with political as well as financial costs. It only underscores the point: Extradition is a bargain.

It’s also the most potent weapon against organized crime available in the region. Mexico and its Central American neighbors should embrace it with Colombian enthusiasm.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Colombia here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

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.