Fugitive cop who fled to Brazil likely to avoid extradition

September 9, 2011

Sun Sentinel on September 8, 2011 released the following:

“Fugitive cop who fled to Brazil likely to avoid extradition

By Megan O’Matz and Jerome Burdi, Sun Sentinel

BOYNTON BEACH— Fugitive David Britto may be out of reach of American authorities forever.

This city’s former Police Officer of the Year was under house arrest, awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges, when he cut the electronic monitoring bracelet from his ankle Aug. 24 and hopped on a plane in Miami, bound for his native country, Brazil, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Brazil’s constitution prohibits the extradition of Brazilian nationals.

“Basically he’s gone unless the Brazilian government, through political pressure, allows U.S. agents to pick him up,” said attorney David Rowe, an adjunct law professor at the University of Miami and an extradition expert.

Britto, 28, appears to have successfully gambled on a high-stakes escape, rather than risk facing years in prison. He is to stand trial beginning Tuesday.

The daring run, however, raises questions about how he pulled it off and who, if anyone, helped him.

On Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Service, which is spearheading the hunt for Britto, said federal agents are looking at every possible way of getting Britto back to Miami, where he faces one count of conspiring to possess and traffic 500 grams of methamphetamine.

“We’re still pursuing him,” Marshals Service spokesman Barry Golden said. “He’s one of the big cases that are on the top of our list … We’re still tracking down every lead. We’re trying to get him back into custody at all costs.”

Attempts to get Britto back are sure to be challenging, if not downright impossible.

A 1964 treaty between the United States and Brazil allows for the extradition of anyone accused or convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of a year or more.

But in 1988, Brazil amended its constitution, expressly stating that “no Brazilian shall be extradited.”

People born elsewhere who become Brazilian citizens, however, can be handed over if they’re charged with certain drug-related crimes. Foreigners who find safe harbor in Brazil and are accused of political crimes elsewhere are not extradited.

The strict policy has strained Brazil’s diplomatic relations.

Earlier this summer Italy denounced Brazil for refusing to turn over political refugee Cesare Battisti, a former Italian militant, convicted in absentia of killing four people in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s refusal to extradite an Ohio woman, Claudia Hoerig, charged in the 2007 murder of her husband, has outraged an Ohio congressman.

U.S. Rep. Timothy Ryan, a Democrat, introduced legislation in June to withhold $14 million a year in aid to Brazil until it reverses its ban on extraditing nationals. The bill is in a House committee.

Ryan has gone so far as to post an ever-changing clock on his website, showing the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds that Hoerig “has escaped justice.” On Thursday, it registered 1,641 days.

“It’s been a nightmare experience on our end up here,” Trumbull County, Ohio, Prosecuting Attorney Dennis Wilkins said of efforts to extradite Hoerig. “I’ve dealt with President [George W.] Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the attorney general and now with [President Barack] Obama and Hillary Clinton, and we’ve not gotten satisfactory action.”

In Florida, the tamper alert on Britto’s ankle bracelet went off the night of Aug. 24, notifying a federal probation officer, according to court records. But U.S. Marshals were not told until the next morning. Only then was a warrant was issued for his arrest, authorities said.

That gave Britto a window of time to escape.

“You cannot respond the next morning. That’s a major security breach,” said Rowe, the University of Miami law professor.

Court documents say Britto, who speaks Portuguese, boarded a plane Aug. 24 in Miami bound for Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

It is unclear what documentation he used to board the international flight.

As a standard condition of bond, Britto had to relinquish “all passports and travel documents” to the Pretrial Services Office.

“Mr. Britto’s Brazilian passport was revoked as a standard condition of release by the court,” said Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington.

Britto was free on a $100,000 bond. He and his mother signed for half the bond and the other half was guaranteed by bailbonds.com, a Miami company.

Britto may be able to live out his days in Brazil, but he likely is landlocked, said Douglas McNabb, whose Washington, D.C., firm specializes in international extradition law.

Federal authorities likely will file a lifetime “red notice” with Interpol’s 188 member countries that will trigger Britto’s arrest if he leaves Brazil.

“He may leave Brazil a month from now or 30 years from now and go to Costa Rica,” McNabb said. “And when he goes through customs, his red notice [shows up].”

That’s what happened to director Roman Polanski, who was arrested in 2009 in Switzerland after being wanted by the United States since 1978 on a statutory-rape conviction. He hid in France, avoiding extradition countries, until he was captured. Polanski was freed by Swiss authorities on a legal technicality the following year.

It’s unknown if someone helped Britto reach Brazil.

According to his website, http://www.blessedwarrior.com, he was born in Brazil and moved to Queens, N.Y., when he was 7.

He joined the Boynton Beach police in 2006.

The Police Department still has an open internal investigation into Britto’s escape, but he’s likely to be fired soon, police said Thursday.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch 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.

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John Boulachanis Captured by the U.S. Marshals in Florida as One of Quebec’s Most Wanted Fugitives

June 20, 2011

U.S. Marshals Service on June 18, 2011 released the following press release:

“Washington – An intense manhunt has ended with the capture of John Boulachanis, a fugitive wanted on an international level. Boulachanis was apprehended in Miami Thursday.

Boulachanis is the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice issued at the request of Canadian authorities for his role in a brutal slaying that occurred in Quebec, Canada, in 1997.

Boulachanis was also being sought by Canadian law enforcement for criminal charges of fraud, arson, narcotics trafficking, conspiracy and weapons offenses. Franklin County, Va. holds an outstanding felony fugitive warrant for Boulachanis as well, issued for three counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.

In April 2011, INTERPOL Ottawa requested the assistance of INTERPOL Washington in locating Boulachanis. According to the Surete’ du Quebec Homicide Squad, Boulachanis had been previously located in New Jersey in 2009, but fled before investigators could make an appropriate identification and arrest.

The case was referred to the INTERPOL Washington Fugitive Division after having been made a priority by the USMS and INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France, in response to an earlier international fugitive initiative entitled “INFRA-RED.” Agents assigned to the INTERPOL Washington Fugitive Division from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Pinellas County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.

“The arrest of Boulachanis shows that, no matter how far this fugitive ran, he couldn’t escape the coordinated, international effort to apprehend him,” said Geoff Shank, Assistant Director of the Investigative Operations Division of the U.S. Marshals Service. “I thank our law enforcement partners both here and in Canada for their assistance in bringing this dangerous criminal to justice.”

In May 2011, investigators were able to ascertain Boulachanis and an accomplice had assumed multiple identities supported by fraudulent documents. He has evaded capture by assembling a complex labyrinth of intentional disinformation, telephone numbers, addresses, financial accounts and postal boxes in Canada and the United States.

On Thursday, at the request of INTERPOL Washington and the U.S. Marshals Service Investigative Operations Division, members of the U.S. Marshals Service Southern Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force in Miami captured Boulachanis as he landed a small aircraft at an airfield in Miami. He was in possession of a fraudulent diplomatic passport, a fraudulent pilot’s license and an unlicensed semi-automatic weapon. The Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement took his accomplice into custody.

Boulachanis is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service awaiting extradition to Canada where he faces life in prison.

The arrest of Boulachanis was the result of the combined efforts of the U.S. Marshals Service Investigative Operations Division, Southern Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force, Western District of Virginia, Jacksonville Fugitive Task Force, and the New York and New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force; the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office; the Surete’ du Quebec Homicide Squad; the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs; the Franklin County (Virginia) Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney’s Offices; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia; the Michigan State Police; the Nebraska State Police; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Coast Guard; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; INTERPOL Ottawa; and INTERPOL Washington.”

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

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Predrag Stojanovic Arrested by ICE as One of Sweden’s Most Wanted Fugitives

June 20, 2011

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 17, 2011 released the following press release:

“PHOENIX – A Serbian citizen wanted in Sweden for drug-related crimes was turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service Thursday for extradition following his arrest June 10 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Phoenix.

Predrag Stojanovic, 44, is one of Sweden’s most wanted fugitives, according to INTERPOL and the Swedish National Bureau of Investigations. In 2002, the Stockholm District Court in Sweden issued a warrant for Stojanovic’s arrest for aggravated narcotics smuggling involving 184 pounds of amphetamine.

“We will not allow criminal fugitives to seek safe haven in the United States,” said Albert Carter, acting field office director of ICE ERO in Phoenix. “Our ERO officers and agents work closely with their law enforcement partners to identify fugitive aliens and ensure they are held accountable for their crimes.”

ERO agents were working with the Phoenix FBI Fugitive Task Force June 10 when they encountered Stojanovic. Stojanovic told agents he illegally entered the United States through Mexico in April 2010.

The agents who made the arrest are assigned to ERO’s Joint Criminal Alien Removal Task Force (JCART) in Phoenix, which is dedicated to identifying and arresting foreign-born criminals who are at-large in Arizona communities. Since Oct. 1, 2010, JCART agents have arrested nearly 150 foreign-born criminals in Arizona.”

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

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Interpol’s Red Notice

January 5, 2011

Douglas McNabb discusses Interpol’s use of the Red Notice and its inter-relationship with International Extradition.

One of Interpol’s most important functions is to help the member countries’ law enforcement organizations communicate with each other about critical crime-related information. An Interpol International Notice is used to help achieve that goal. Based on a request made by the requesting country’s National Central Bureau (NCB), Interpol produces one of seven types of notices in all four of its official languages – English, French, Spanish and Arabic. The notice is circulated worldwide.

1. Red Notice (“International Wanted Notice”)

The legal basis for a Red Notice is the arrest warrant (issued for a person wanted for prosecution) or a court order (issued for a person wanted to serve a sentence) issued by judicial authorities in the concerned country. The notice contains identification information about the subject person such as physical description, photographs and fingerprints if available, occupation, languages spoken and identity documents. The notice may also contain judicial information such as offense with which the person is charged, references to the relevant laws under which the charge is made or conviction was obtained, the maximum penalty that has been or can be imposed, the references of the arrest or of the sentence imposed by the court, and details of the countries from which the requesting country will seek the fugitive’s extradition.

Many of Interpol’s member countries consider a Red Notice as a valid request for provisional arrest. This is particularly true if the requesting country and requested country have a bilateral or multilateral extradition treaty or convention in force with each other. It is even more so if the treaty or convention allows for the use of Interpol channels to forward such requests.

If a Red Notice is considered to be a valid request for a provisional arrest, the appropriate judicial authority in the requested country can make the decision, based on the information in the notice, to have the person provisionally arrested. Subsequent to the arrest, the requesting country is notified of the person’s detention and the formal extradition process can begin.

In the United States, based on the notice alone, federal law prohibits the arrest of the subject of the Red Notice. If the subject is found within the United States, the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, will make a determination if a valid extradition treaty exists between the U.S. and the requesting country for the specified crime or crimes. If the subject is extraditable, and after a diplomatic request for a provisional arrest is received from the requesting country, the facts are communicated to the U.S. Attorney’s Office where the person is located. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will then file a Criminal Complaint and obtain an arrest warrant requesting extradition. If the United States is the requesting country the Red Notice is generated by the US – NCB in coordination with the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The notice will request that the subject be provisionally arrested. The Notice is sent to all 188 Interpol member countries, and is posted at all U.S. border ports of entry. The notice data is also entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). It should be noted that Interpol has the authority to refuse to issue a Red Notice when it is not satisfied that the notice contains all the information needed to formulate a valid request for a provisional arrest. Additionally, a Red Notice may not be issued if Interpol concludes that the request is based on activity of a political, military, religious or racial character.

2. Blue Notice (“International Request for Information Notice”)

This notice is primarily used for tracing and locating a person when the decision to extradite has not yet been made. It may also be used to verify a person’s identity, to obtain particulars about his criminal record or to locate witnesses to criminal activity.

3. Green Notice (“International Alert Notice”)

This notice is used to provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offenses, and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries.

4. Yellow Notice (“International Missing Person Notice”)

This notice is used to help locate missing persons, including children, or to help identify persons who may not be able to identify themselves such as a person suffering from amnesia.

5. Black Notice (“International Unidentified Dead Body Notice”)

This notice is used to seek the identity of deceased persons.

6. Orange Notice (“Warning Notice”)

This notice is issued to warn police, public entities and other international organizations about potential threats from disguised weapons, parcel bombs and other dangerous materials.

7. Interpol- United Nations Special Notice

This notice is issued for groups and individuals who are the targets of UN sanctions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

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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WikiLeaks Founder Faces Possible Extradition

December 2, 2010

British police asked Swedish authorities Thursday for additional details not specified in an initial arrest warrant for Julian Assange, a possible indication that the location of the elusive founder of WikiLeaks is known.

The fact that British police are seeking more information probably means there is a procedural problem preventing them from arresting Assange. The additional details could provide them with a valid warrant.

It is likely that British police either know where he is or they have been watching him. However, there are definitely legal restraints holding them back from an arrest.

Assange is wanted in Sweden for sex-crime allegations that are not related to WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, the website continued publishing confidential diplomatic information that has been stirring up all corners of the world.

Assange, who has said he has long feared retribution for his website’s disclosures, has denied the sex-crime allegations, calling them a smear campaign.

Despite the warrant and an Interpol red notice, akin to an all-points bulletin, Assange has so far eluded arrest, making him one of the world’s most wanted fugitives.

Assange has not been seen in public since the Stockholm Criminal Court issued an international arrest warrant on November 18, 2010. Officials say Assange is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force.

There are conflicting reports on whether Assange is currently in Britain or elsewhere. Swedish authorities claim they are unaware of his whereabouts, which prompted the request to Interpol.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said it would send additional information to British police that would lay out the allegations of sexual molestation and illegal use of force — in addition to the accusation of rape that was already in the warrant — and the potential penalties attached to each alleged crime.

Assange, meanwhile lost a legal bid in the Swedish Supreme Court, which refused Thursday to hear an appeal of an arrest warrant for suspicion of rape and sexual molestation. Previously, the Swedish Court of Appeal had rejected Assange’s appeal.

At Sweden’s request, Interpol has issued an international wanted-persons alert for Assange to its 188 member countries. The red notice is not an arrest warrant, but an advisory and request for countries to locate a person with a view toward that person’s arrest and extradition. He would most certainly face extradition to Sweden if he is arrested, but he would have the right to appeal it.

A U.S. warrant for Assange over the WikiLeaks postings could further complicate this case. Specifically, the United States could pursue a case against Assange to silence the WikiLeaks site. Further, it is definitely possible for Assange to drag this out for years, and who’s to say that if Assange is arrested, publications on WikiLeaks will cease?

The most important question remains: Where is Assange?

For a complete reading of the CNN article, please click here.

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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US Seeking Extradition from Paraguay for Suspected Hezbollah Financier

June 22, 2010

The United States has asked Paraguay to extradite a Lebanese national suspected of funneling money to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah from the South American nation, court sources said Wednesday.

Mussa Ali Hamdan, 38, was arrested Tuesday in Ciudad del Este, part of the Triple Frontier, a region the United States has repeatedly cited as being exploited by militant groups that “finance terrorist activities.”

Hamdan is accused of 31 crimes, according to Interpol. The US extradition request cites his alleged material support for Hezbollah “including falsified documents.”

The suspect is also accused of counterfeiting US currency and conspiracy to commit passport fraud, according to the request.

Hamdan appeared Wednesday before Judge Hugo Sosa Pasmor to confirm his identity as part of an extradition request, and then was transferred to Asuncion’s Tacumbu penitentiary.

Local media, citing local security officials, have said Hamdan was financing Hezbollah, which fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel and is blacklisted as a terror group by Washington.

A cosmopolitan area and significant tourist spot, the Triple Frontier is also considered a major spot for smuggling and other organized crime. Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina however deny their shared region is a hotbed for terror financing.

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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