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In re Extradition of Lam

May 12, 2009

IN THE MATTER OF THE EXTRADITION OF WEI TUNG LAM


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

CERTIFICATION OF EXTRADITABILITY AND ORDER OF COMMITMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This is an extradition proceeding pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3184 in which Belgium, through the United States (Hereinafter, "Government"), seeks the extradition of Wei Tung Lam (Hereinafter, "relator" or "LAM"). The extradition request is based upon a 1997 treaty entered into between the United States and the Kingdom of Belgium. Belgium requests LAM's extradition for crimes including breaching the law on customs and excise, forgery and use of forged documents, association of criminals, and money laundering.

On September 25, 2008, a complaint for provisional arrest of LAM was filed by the government. (Doc. 2). Acting on the complaint, this Court issued a warrant for the provisional arrest of LAM under 18 U.S.C. § 3184 and Article 10 of the Treaty. Doc. 1. After the arrest of LAM on the provisional warrant, he was arraigned before the Court on Oct. 1, 2008, and ordered detained. (Doc. 7). On February 27, 2009, the government filed a "Memorandum of Law In Support of Extradition" which contained supporting documents required under the treaty. (Doc. 22). LAM filed an Opposition to Extradition on February 27, 2009, as well as a Reply filed on March 13, 2009. Docs. 21and 23. On March 18, 2009, the government subsequently filed a Reply with accompanying exhibits to LAM's oppositions. Docs. 26 and 27.

On March 24, 2009, an extradition hearing was held.*fn1 LAM personally appeared and was assisted by his attorneys Dennis P. Riordan, Gary Dubcoff, and Donald Hogan, who appeared telephonically. Assistant United States Attorney, Stanley A. Boone, personally appeared on behalf of the government. At the hearing, the Court admitted government's exhibits numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4 into evidence and ordered that the parties file supplemental briefing. Both parties filed their briefs on April 13, 2009. Doc. 30 and 31.

On April 21, 2009, a further hearing was held. LAM and his attorneys Dennis Riordan and Donald Hogan were personally present. Assistant United States Attorney, Stanley A. Boone, appeared on behalf of the government. Upon consideration of all of the filings, evidence, and arguments presented, the Court finds that Wei Tung Lam is extraditable for the all the offenses requested except for the offense of money laundering, and certifies this finding to the Secretary of State as required under Title 18 U.S.C. § 3184.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Court's inquiry at an extradition hearing is to determine the following: (1) whether the undersigned judicial officer is authorized to conduct the extradition hearing; (2) whether jurisdiction lies; (3) whether there is an extradition treaty in full force and effect between the requesting state (Belgium) and the requested state (United States); (4) whether the crimes alleged in the charging instrument are covered by the treaty; and (5) whether competent legal evidence amounting to probable cause establishes that there is good reason to believe that the extraditee committed the crimes alleged. Ornelas v. Ruiz, 161 US 502, 510 (1896); Zanazanian v. United States, 729 F. 2d 624, 626 (9th Cir. 1984).

If the court determines that all the requisite elements have been met, the findings are incorporated into the certificate of extraditability. The certificate is forwarded to the Department of the State. The Secretary of State makes the final decision on whether to surrender the respondent. 18 U.S.C. § 3186.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Requirements for Extradition

1. Authority of the Judicial Officer

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3184 and Eastern District of California Local Rule 72-302(b)(8), a magistrate judge is authorized to conduct an extradition hearing. Therefore, this requirement is met.

2. Jurisdiction Over the Individual Sought

LAM is currently in custody in the Eastern District of California. Accordingly, this Court has personal and subject matter jurisdiction over him. See, In re Pazienza, 619 F. Supp. 611, 616-18 (S.D.N.Y. 1985). LAM has not challenged this requirement.

3. Validity of the Treaty

On February 27, 2009, the government filed a declaration of David O. Buchholz, an Attorney Adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser for the Department of State, which certifies that there is a valid extradition treaty in force between the United States and Belgium. Declaration of David O. Buchholz, dated December 23, 2008, Gov't. Exh. #2; See also, Doc. 22-3. A copy of the treaty is attached to Mr. Buchholz's declaration. Id. Accordingly, the Court takes judicial notice that there is an extradition treaty in full force and effect between the United States and the Kingdom of Belgium which was signed at Brussels on April 27, 1987, and entered into force on September 1, 1997. (Hereinafter, "Treaty").

4. Treaty Coverage

On February 27, 2009, the government filed the extradition request and accompanying documents including an International Arrest Warrant and texts of the applicable Belgian penal codes. (Doc. 22-2).*fn2 These documents indicate that ...


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