Extraditing El Chapo, Or Not

A few days ago, the Attorney General of Mexico announced that on June 25, 2015, less than two weeks before his escape, Mexico had received a diplomatic note requesting extradition of El Chapo to the Southern District of of California. Here is Mexico's official press release. Via Google translate, it says:

She informed senators and deputies, on 25 June this year was received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a diplomatic note, through which the Government of the United States of America made the formal request for the extradition of Joaquin Guzman Loera, in order to be processed by the Federal District Court for the Southern District of California on charges of conspiring to import and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

She explained that she turned instructions to the areas of the PGR, to analyze the request and be attached to the legal requirements and of the international treaty on the subject signed between both countries, consideration of the Judicial power of the Federation, in accordance with the appropriate procedure.


Alana Robinson, the Chief of the Criminal Division for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California (San Diego) confirmed in a radio interview this week that the extradition request was for the 1995 case. Oddly, she says that the extradition request was made shortly after his capture in February, 2014.

Alana Robinson from the U.S. Attorney's Office said the United States tried to extradite Guzman when he was arrested in February because he was wanted on drug charges here. She said that request was still pending when Guzman escaped.

From the transcript:

Q: Now what happened when the U.S. tried to extradite him when he was arrested this last time in Feburary 2014?

A: (Robinson) The United States Department of Justice complied with the treaty requirements and submitted our extradition request. That was pending with the Mexican Government at the time of Chapo’s escape.

While she doesn't give a date the request was submitted, and there's a pause while she considers how to phrase the answer, she clearly implies the request was submitted shortly after his arrest, not three weeks ago, as the Mexican Government now claims.

Why would the U.S. seek El Chapo's extradition on a case where the charges are 25 years old, as opposed to more recent cases such as those in Chicago, the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Texas? Can the U.S. extradite him on the San Diego case and once he's here, decide to try him first in Chicago or Texas or New York?

It may depend on what the Diplomatic Note accompanying the extradition request says. If the U.S. only sought extradition on the San Diego charges, which is what Mexico said, the U.S. may have to request in the Diplomatic Note that Mexico waive the rule of specialty, to allow the U.S. to try Chapo on offenses that occurred after the San Diego offenses for which he is being extradited, and on cases in other districts.

One version I read in the news said that San Diego had submitted an extradition request back in in the 1990's, but they never got the arrest warrant. When he was arrested in February, 2014, the U.S. asked for time to update its old extradition request, to add the charges in 6 other districts. I read they were San Diego, Western District of Texas, Eastern District of New York and Florida. The Arizona tunnel case charges were dismissed against El Chapo in 2012 (here's the order), so unless they refile them, Arizona is not an option. New Hampshire has a case against him, and so did Pennsylvania, but they rarely get mentioned.

It's a bit curious that the U.S. has managed to extradite Ismael (Mayo) Zambada's brother and two of his sons have been extradited, while a request is pending for a third son, but it never sought to get El Chapo here, even though they had multiple cases to choose from.

The only conclusion I can draw from that is the U.S. didn't ask because it knew that Chapo bought himself protection from the Mexican Government against extradition. That may have ended with his 2014 arrest, and it sounds like quite a few people knew about this new request (whether it came in February, as some say, or last month) and that is what set the timing of his latest escape in motion.

If Mexico grants the new extradition request, there will be a Diplomatic Note with conditions Mexico imposes on the extradition. For example, since the Texas Indictment includes murder charges in the Continuing Criminal Enterprise count, which carries a possible death sentence, one such condition would be that Mexico will only agree to extradite him if the U.S. agrees not to ask for the death penalty. Mexico does not grant extraditions without that promise.

Short of that, promises don't mean too much. Take this guy, Yesid Rios Suarez, who was extradited from Colombia which extracted a promise he wouldn't get a life sentence. He is 46 years old. The judge in New York gave him 648 months. The U.S, per its obligation under the diplomatic note, asked the judge to sentence him to less. The judge refused. The U.S. then said too bad, it did its job in making the request. Just last month, the Second Circuit rejected Suarez' appeal, telling him that the right of specialty is not your right, it's the right of the Government that agreed to extradite you. The case is United States v. Suarez, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11185, *1 (2d Cir. N.Y. June 30, 2015),

As a matter of international law, the principle of specialty has been viewed as a privilege of the asylum state, designed to protect its dignity and interests, rather than a right accruing to the accused. The object of the rule was to prevent the United States from violating international obligations. Those concerns apply equally whether a criminal defendant objects based on the rule of specialty or based on the interpretation of an extradition treaty or Diplomatic Note. When the provisions in question are designed to protect the sovereignty of states, it is plainly the offended states which must in the first instance determine whether a violation of sovereignty occurred, or requires redress.

Where can El Chapo go? Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia are all on alert for him. It sounds like he'll need some serious facial plastic surgery if he wants to remain hidden. I wonder if he has any contacts in Brazil. Other than that, the only thing I can think of is that he'll have to buy himself a country somewhere.

I hope he does not get extradited to the U.S. We extradite far too many drug offenders as it is. It costs more than $25,000 a year to house each one. Considering some of them have 30 year sentences, it's costing us a fortune.

Just last month, the U.S. announced indictments and intended extraditions for 17 Colombian traffickers of the Usuga clan, who are supposedly aligned with the Guerillas (even though they started out with their enemies, the paramilitary groups.)

We should just legalize all drugs -- with the profit margin gone, they'd stop sending them here. They've already given up on marijuana. Treatment doesn't cost anywhere near as much as imprisoning hundreds of foreign traffickers. There will always be a new group.

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    This (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 07:34:21 AM EST
    We should just legalize all drugs -- with the profit margin gone, they'd stop sending them here. They've already given up on marijuana. Treatment doesn't cost anywhere near as much as imprisoning hundreds of foreign traffickers. There will always be a new group.

    Why is this so hard?   Surely opponents have no illusions about the success of the "war on drugs".   It's a mystery.   I think it's like the reaction many on the religious right have to gay sex.  It doesn't matter that it (was) is a victimless crime.  The just don't like it.  They don't want people who do that in their world.   How sad and put upon they must feel with all the people doing things they just really don't want them to to.  Darn it.

    This is so hard because hundreds and (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by scribe on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 07:59:03 AM EST
    thousands of cops, prosecutors, jailers, jail builders and pols have made their careers - and some nice, lucrative salaries and bonuses - out of putting drug offenders in jail.

    That's the easiest, basest explanation - they're protecting their payroll.

    The next question we have to answer is "what are we going to do with all those cops, prosecutors, jailers, jail builders and pols when they don't have drug crimes to prosecute?"  They are not simply going to go away and work at Walmart or something.  And every political opponent
    (and police union head) will raise a massive hue and cry about the evils of laying off cops, how it's making your world more dangerous, yadda yadda.  In short, they'll find something new to go to war on to keep their system full and the paychecks coming.

    The final thing we have to consider is that the current war on drugs is used as a means of racial and economic oppression, don't kid yourself.  TPTB will have to find some new means, some new crime, to effect that level of oppression.

    We have to have the future - an alternate to the cops continuing their Drug War with a new War on Something - planned out and ready to implement, or we will merely trade the War on Drugs for something else and the ratchet will only get tighter.


    All so true (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 08:27:16 AM EST
    maybe we can get them jobs installing solar panels or something.

    Less cool toys (none / 0) (#13)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 03:52:14 PM EST
    to play with installing solar panels. And they'd get to play dress up much less.

    Maybe they could have (none / 0) (#20)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:00:06 PM EST
    really cool uniforms.  Like storm troopers.  

    To install solar panels.


    Unless solar panels can be installed (none / 0) (#28)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 25, 2015 at 07:23:17 AM EST
    by pointing guns at them and shouting at the top of their lungs, it's a non starter.

    However (none / 0) (#4)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 08:32:39 AM EST
    my comment was less about those with a vested interest in maintaining the current industry than about a large portion of the general public, including some frequent commenters here, who seem to think, actually think, that the legalization of all drugs would literally be the end of civilization as we know it.

    Leo (none / 0) (#5)
    by FlJoe on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:08:36 AM EST
    is shooting themselves in the foot if they think they are protecting their payroll, the $30k cost per prisoner is coming from some where. The Police/Penal system is a socialized entity with a budget limited by what society is willing to pay. Every dollar spent on incarceration could theoretically be put into higher salary for Law officers.

    For sure, decriminalizing would lead to the need for less police, a big chance to get rid all those "bad apples" if you ask me, however the "good apples" that remain could expect to be paid more..


    What you're overlooking is (none / 0) (#12)
    by scribe on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 11:57:41 AM EST
    that cops and the rest of the criminal justice system have their incentives structured to require them to do law enforcement work.  Telling them to sit around and do less won't work.

    On an individualized basis, to ensure his/her continued employment the first-level supervisory cop will be under pressure to make sure the individual cops under his/her command are doing cop work.  That means catching and arresting criminals.  Cops get no credit at work for finding that someone is innocent.  If the individual cops don't make enough busts - good busts are strongly preferred - then they find themselves getting progressive discipline to make them find and arrest criminals or find their way into new employment.  Given that the salary, benefits and pensions given cops (every pol loves giving these and increasing them b/c it makes them vocal friends) are about the best there are for working-class people (that is as much a reflection on the crappy market employees face as anything else), the average cop has no reason to want to be forced out.

    So, they'll go into the criminal and traffic codes and find something, anything, to concentrate on and make busts.


    I Agree. (none / 0) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:25:27 AM EST
    I just read something on why cocaine burst into the American scene.  When Hollywood types and politicians were doing it, no one cared.  Then when it became a perceived problem, when poor people started doing it, it was too late as the infrastructure was already cemented in.

    Just remembered, it was from George Jung in an interview with PBS he did when he was released last year.

    So that was basically the beginning of the influx of cocaine in the United States. More or less everybody knows what happened from there. It became an accepted product, just like marijuana. I mean Madison Avenue promoted cocaine. The movie industry. The record industry. I mean, if you were well to do and you were a jet- setter, it was okay to snort cocaine. I mean Studio 54 in New York, everybody was snorting cocaine, everybody was laughing and having a good time and snorting cocaine. I don't think that the government of the United States had any idea what the hell was really happening until it was too late.

    (Interviewer)Why didn't they know what was happening?

    Because there's a mindset in this country that it's okay for upper-class white America to do drugs and it's okay and they shouldn't be punished severely for it. If you're from the ghetto or what have you and you do drugs, then you should be punished severely. The government allowed the media and the record industry and the movie industry to promote [cocaine] and nobody ever stood up. Nobody ever said no to this.

    Scott, also when coke (none / 0) (#17)
    by fishcamp on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 04:47:42 PM EST
    Went to crack, the fun and laughing went away.  Whole neighborhoods and city ies...well you know.  Now it's designer drugs or whatever their called.

    Well, until they outlawed them and (none / 0) (#23)
    by scribe on Tue Jul 21, 2015 at 08:55:32 AM EST
    cracked down hard, the synthetic so-called "Bath salts" made for some very entertaining news reports on the insane stuff people ingesting them did.

    Several months ago NPR or CNBC ran (none / 0) (#29)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 25, 2015 at 07:30:37 AM EST
    a report on the "bath salt" chemists and fabs in China.  The chemists change molecules with one objective - to avoid illegality.  There is no testing at all.

    In Houston... (none / 0) (#25)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Jul 21, 2015 at 12:00:39 PM EST
    ...powder is still king.  I assume because of our local and how that makes it cheap.

    Ecstasy was hot for a minute or two, but because of powder it didn't last.  Powder nullifies the effects of ecstasy, same with liquor, but to a lessor degree.

    Meth never really took off.  I think most here view it as the poor man's powder, except that it costs more and lasts longer, too long for some.

    Bath salts, if those are designer, are like that fake weed they sell in the head shops, the S people do who can't get real drugs, do.


    Scott, also when coke (none / 0) (#18)
    by fishcamp on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 04:47:54 PM EST
    Went to crack, the fun and laughing went away.  Whole neighborhoods and city ies...well you know.  Now it's designer drugs or whatever their called.

    Or (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:44:29 AM EST
    The next question we have to answer is "what are we going to do with all those cops, prosecutors, jailers, jail builders and pols when they don't have drug crimes to prosecute?"  They are not simply going to go away and work at Walmart or something.

    The next question we ask, is what are all those traffickers and dealers going to do when they lose market share for their product?  They aren't just going to go work at Wal-mart or something. They certainly aren't going to grow LESS violent. (Actually, the cartels have already started diversifying their portfolios into the much more profitable areas like human trafficking, guns, and oil.)

    And prosecutors get rich???? Hahahahaha!  No, but many defense attorneys surely have.  Don't forget, legalizing drugs puts LOTS of them out of work too.  Guess they can join the prison guards down at that Wal-mart.


    IS the Demand... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:59:14 AM EST
    ...for human, gun, and oil going to go up ?

    I agree that they are going to do something else, that is what criminals do, but the dollars are going to dry up, and without them the infrastructure will also dry up, and without the infrastructure the criminality will, at the very least, decrease substantially.

    It's one thing to payoff to let cocaine trafficker do business with other items sliding through, it's quit another to let human traffickers operate in your jurisdiction.

    We have a relatively similar circumstances in the 20/30's.  Yeah, those folks still operate stills and I am sure commit other crimes, maybe some turned to weed and eventually meth, but the over all infrastructure of bootleg liquor doesn't exist in an real form.  And more importantly, people aren't dying and going to prison over the illegal liquor trade dollars.

    The idea that we don't change course because criminals are going to commit crimes, is absurd.


    That is the exactly right nutshell (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by sj on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 11:27:51 AM EST
    The idea that we don't change course because criminals are going to commit crimes, is absurd.

    Perhaps (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 10:15:33 AM EST
    some would start selling it legally.   I would.

    Laugh all you want. (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 03:58:09 PM EST
    But take a look at the abuses in civil forfeiture in the name of drug enforcement. Prosecutors may be not be lining their personal pockets, but they sure are enriching their organizations and departments with this stupid war on Americans.

    please stay on topic (none / 0) (#27)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jul 22, 2015 at 12:53:16 AM EST
    forfeiture abuse is getting too far afield.

    And which... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by sj on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 04:35:21 PM EST
    And prosecutors get rich???? Hahahahaha!  No, but many defense attorneys surely have.  
    ...defense attorneys are those?

    The ones that keep Banksters out of jail. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 08:35:04 PM EST
    Former AG Eric Holder among them (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Dadler on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:05:45 PM EST
    Barely out of his "government service" and he's back to raking millions from the same TBTF companies he saved billions as Attorney General Kid Gloves.

    please stay on topic thx (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jul 21, 2015 at 04:48:08 AM EST
    I guess they are defense attorneys (none / 0) (#24)
    by sj on Tue Jul 21, 2015 at 10:59:37 AM EST
    You're right. I was thinking of public defenders when I read jb's comment, not "dream teams"

    Drugs are so much easier to make money on (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by CST on Tue Jul 21, 2015 at 12:19:09 PM EST
    Just look at all the money Colorado is raking in - and that's just pot where they haven't even eliminated the black market entirely.

    Most neighborhood drug dealers can't just diversify into human trafficking, guns, and oil.  Sure some of the higher level cartels can.  But the average crack dealer isn't going to be able to make that transition.  People and guns are much harder to transport than drugs, and the market is much smaller.  They may be more profitable, but the risk is much greater too.  As for oil - I don't really know what the problem is, unless you're somehow implicating a violent/criminal element to the oil trades that I'm unfamiliar with (beyond the whole "war for oil" thing - but I'd put that more in the "war" camp than the "oil" camp).

    And you know - if Walmart paid well, a lot of them might actually go work there.  Or they keep selling drugs, only without the crime and violence.


    What happened to the bootleggers (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:50:48 AM EST
    and illegal alcohol distillers after Prohibition?

    But yes, let's not legalize drugs because the dealers will go into something worse than that.


    Some of them are growing (none / 0) (#14)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 03:56:27 PM EST
    that evil weed. Good growing gets done in places like Kentucky where bootleggers previously thrived.