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In the Matter of the Extradition of Edward Ronald Hughes

March 18, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marc L. Goldman United States Magistrate Judge


Before the Court is a request for extradition brought by the Government of Mexico ("Mexico"), the requesting state, against Edward Ronald Hughes. Pursuant to an extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico, the United States acts on behalf of Mexico in this matter. See Extradition Treaty Between the United States of America and Mexico, May 4, 1978, Art. 13(3), 31 U.S.T. 5059; TIAS 9656 ("Extradition Treaty" or "Treaty").

I. Background

A. Procedural History

On October 23, 2012, a complaint was filed by the United States alleging that Edward Ronald Hughes was the subject of an extradition request made by Mexico. United States v. Hughes, Case No. EDCV 12-0333M. Mexico's formal extradition request for Hughes's surrender, dated April 3, 2012, was filed as an attachment to the complaint. On September 17, 2012, a warrant was issued under 18 U.S.C. § 3184 for the arrest of Hughes. Pursuant to the warrant, Hughes was arrested on October 8, 2012. Hughes had his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym on October 9, 2012. He has been detained pending the extradition hearing. Hughes, a United States citizen, is accused by Mexico of having committed the crime of aggravated homicide in Mexico.

Hughes filed his Opposition to Extradition ("Opposition") on January 18, 2013, and on February 8, 2013, the United States filed a Reply ("Reply"). An extradition hearing was held on March 12, 2013. After considering the parties' respective papers, evidence, and oral arguments, the matter was taken under submission. For the reasons discussed below, the Court issues this Memorandum and Order certifying Hughes's extradition to Mexico.

B. Factual History*fn1

In February 1994, Hughes and a business associate, Brian McCarthy, traveled to Mexico, ostensibly to conduct business on behalf of Automation Software, Inc ("ASI"), a company based in Rhode Island, of which both men were officers. On February 8, 1994, Hughes returned to ASI's office in the United States with what he claimed was a "ransom" demand. Hughes told company officials that McCarthy had been abducted in Mexico on February 6, 1994. He informed them that the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of one million pesos, and that Hughes was to return with the money or McCarthy would be killed. On February 7, 1994, while preparations were being made to deliver the ransom, but before any ransom had been paid, McCarthy's body was found in a shallow grave on a road between Mexico City and San Luis Potosi.

On February 9, 1994, Hughes resigned his position with ASI. He sold his Rhode Island home in March 1994 and returned to Mexico. Nine millimeter shell casings found near McCarthy's body were later determined to match shell casings found on Hughes's property in Rhode Island. Firearm transaction records revealed that Hughes had purchased a nine millimeter handgun in September 1993.

On May 17, 1994, a warrant for Hughes's arrest was issued by the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The warrant was based on a complaint charging Petitioner with attempted extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951. On June 14, 1994, the United States submitted an extradition request to Mexico, asking that Hughes be returned to the United States to stand trial on federal extortion and related charges.

On July 7, 1994, Hughes was taken into custody by Mexican officials. On October 10, 1994, the Government of Mexico granted the United States' request to extradite Hughes, but stayed extradition until the criminal investigation into the murder of Brian McCarthy and any possible prosecution was completed.

On September 21, 1995, Mexico issued an arrest warrant for Hughes for the homicide of Brian McCarthy. On April 29, 1997, Hughes was acquitted of the murder charge in Mexico. Hughes was released on bail on July 4, 1997, but was required to remain under house arrest while the prosecution's appeal of his acquittal was pending, a procedure permitted under Mexican law. On February 25, 1998, the decision of the trial court was reversed by a Mexican appellate court. Hughes was found guilty of McCarthy's murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison. Sometime during the pendency of these proceedings, Hughes returned to the United States. Hughes was never returned into the custody of Mexican authorities, and remains a fugitive from Mexican justice.

Meanwhile, on September 11, 1996, an indictment was returned in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island charging Hughes with Interference with Commerce by Threat or Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951. An arrest warrant was issued that same day. In May 1998, Hughes surrendered himself to federal authorities in Rhode Island. On September 24, 1998, following a jury trial, Hughes was convicted of the charge contained in the indictment. On February 8, 1999, he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standard

Extradition from the United States is governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3184, which confers jurisdiction on "any justice or judge of the United States" or any authorized magistrate judge to conduct an extradition hearing under the relevant extradition treaty between the United States and the requesting nation. The purpose of the extradition hearing is to determine whether a person arrested pursuant to a complaint in the United States on behalf of a foreign government is subject to surrender to the requesting country under the terms of the pertinent treaty and relevant law. See 18 U.S.C. § 3184. In order to surrender the person to the requesting country, the Court must determine that each of the following requirements have been met: (1) the extradition magistrate has jurisdiction to conduct the extradition proceedings; (2) the extradition magistrate has jurisdiction over the fugitive; (3) an extradition treaty is in full force and effect; (4) the crime is extraditable (the dual criminality requirement); (5) there is probable cause to believe that the individual appearing before the magistrate judge has committed the crimes alleged by the requesting nation (the probable cause requirement); and (6) there are no applicable treaty provisions which bar the extradition for any of the charged offenses. See Barapind v. Reno, 225 F.3d 1100, 1105 (9th Cir. 2000); CornejoBarreto v. Seifert, 218 F.3d 1004, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2000); Quinn v. Robinson, 783 F.2d 776, 783, 790 (9th Cir. 1986); Zanazanian v. U.S., 729 F.2d 624, 626 (9th Cir. 1984).

If these requirements are met, the extradition magistrate must certify the individual as extraditable to the Secretary of State and issue a warrant of commitment. Blaxland v. Commonwealth Dir. of Pub. Prosecutions, 323 F.3d 1198, 1208 (9th Cir. 2003). Once such a certification has been made, "it is the Secretary of State, representing the executive branch, who determines whether to surrender the fugitive." Blaxland, 323 F.3d at 1208; 18 U.S.C. ยง 3184. Extradition is a matter of foreign policy entirely within the discretion of the executive branch, and "the executive branch's ultimate decision on extradition may be based on a variety of grounds, ranging from individual circumstances, to foreign policy ...

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