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In re Extradition of Edgar Orlando Camelo-Grillo

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 10, 2017






         This is a proceeding under 18 U.S.C. § 3184 pursuant to a request by the Republic of Colombia (“Colombia”), through the United States Government (“the Government”), for the extradition of Colombian national Edgar Orlando Camelo-Grillo (“Camelo-Grillo”) under the provisions of the Treaty of Extradition between the United States of America and the Republic of Colombia, signed on September 14, 1979, S. Treaty Doc. No. 97-8 (1981) (“Treaty”).

         On December 6, 2016, the Government filed a Request for Extradition, (“Request, ” Dkt. No. 16), supported by three multi- document exhibits.[1] (Dkt. No. 17). On January 13, 2017, the Government filed a Memorandum of Law in Support of Extradition. (“Memo., ” Dkt. No. 20). Camelo-Grillo filed an Opposition on March 16, 2017. (“Opp., ” Dkt. No. 24). The Government filed a Reply on March 27, 2017, including one multi-document exhibit.[2] (“Reply, ” Dkt. No. 25). On June 6, 2017, the Court conducted a hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3184.[3] For the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby CERTIFIES to the Secretary of State of the United States the extraditability of Camelo-Grillo on the charged offenses.



         The instant extradition request arises from a 2001 decision of the Special Criminal Circuit Court 6 in the Judicial District of Bogota. According to the facts set forth in that decision, late on July 11, 1992, three drive-by shooters in Bogota, Colombia killed a man named John Henry Cely-Pinilla and fled. (Exh. C at 88, 90, 92). Shortly thereafter, police officers Julio Cesar Gutierrez-Garcia and Juan Sepulveda-Enciso, tipped off by a witness who saw where the shooters had taken refuge, arrived at a nearby residence in pursuit of the killers. (Id.). Shots were fired at the officers from inside the home, one of which struck and killed Officer Gutierrez-Garcia. (Id. at 88, 90). Lieutenant Leonardo Baron-Salazar followed a trail of blood up to the third floor of the home and concluded that one of the home's occupants had leapt through an open window to a neighboring residence. (Id. at 90). There Lieutenant Baron-Salazar found Camelo-Grillo, injured and bloodied, with a revolver, five cartridges and a grenade. (Id. at 90-91, 93). Cely-Pinilla's brother, an eyewitness to the drive-by shooting, later identified Camelo-Grillo as one of the shooters in the vehicle. (Id. at 92).

         One year later, on July 12, 1993, a criminal court convicted Camelo-Grillo of the murders of Cely-Pinilla and Officer Gutierrez-Garcia, and of illegal carriage of weapons, and sentenced him to a sixteen-year prison term. (Id. at 88; see also Id. at 62-69 (July 1993 decision)). Three months later, on September 15, 1993, despite the trial court's certainty that Camelo-Grillo had committed both murders, a reviewing court vacated the conviction for the murder of Cely-Pinilla because the indictment did not properly lay out charges for that crime. (Id. at 88; see also Id. at 70-83 (September 1993 decision)). At the same time, the court affirmed the convictions for the murder of Officer Gutierrez-Garcia and for illegal carriage of weapons. (Id. at 83). The court then reduced Camelo-Grillo's sentence to a term of ten years and three months on those two surviving convictions. (Id.).

         Just under two years later, on July 26, 1995, the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice, Criminal Cassation Bench, vacated Camelo-Grillo's original murder convictions on procedural grounds. (Id. at 89; see also Id. at 41-52 (July 1995 decision)). According to the court, Camelo-Grillo's case should have been assigned to a newly-created “jurisdiction, which was assigned the duties of investigation and trial” for certain “special” matters, including homicides of police personnel.[4] (Id. at 45). Pending reassignment of the murder investigation to the proper tribunal, the court granted Camelo-Grillo “the benefit of provisional release” contingent on the lodgment of a surety and his signing a “commitment” as provided in Article 419 of the Colombian Criminal Procedure Code. (Id. at 50).

         The Colombian Special Terrorism Unit issued an indictment against Camelo-Grillo on April 16, 1996 for the crime of homicide “under Article 8 of Decree 2790/1990, amended by Article 1 of Decree 099/1991[, ] and Article 2.2 of Decree 2326/1991, adopted as permanent legislation under Article 12 of Decree 2266/1991.” (Id. at 89). Special Criminal Court 6 in Bogota held a public hearing on April 18, 2001, (id.), and on May 8, 2001, convicted Camelo-Grillo in absentia of the murder of Officer Gutierrez-Garcia. (Id. at 88) (stating that the public hearing in Camelo-Grillo's 2001 “criminal trial [was] conducted in his absence”). The court sentenced Camelo-Grillo to a fifteen-year term of imprisonment, “taking account of the time during which he [had previously been] detained due to this case.” (Id. at 96). Arrest warrants issued on September 18, 2001, (id. at 86-87), and appear to have been reissued by the Sentences and Precautionary Measures Court in Bogota several times, including on April 12, 2013, (id. at 12-13), and June 9, 2014. (Id. at 14-15). The Government represents, and Camelo-Grillo does not dispute, that the warrants “remain active and enforceable.” (Memo. at 3).

         On June 9, 2015, Colombia tendered a diplomatic note to the Department of State requesting Camelo-Grillo's extradition to serve the remainder of his sentence for Officer Gutierrez-Garcia's murder. (Exh. A at 5). Fourteen months later, on August 12, 2016, the Government filed a complaint in this Court for Camelo-Grillo's arrest and extradition. See United States v. Edgar Orlando Camelo-Grillo, C.D. Cal. Case No. M 16-1621 DUTY, Dkt. No. 1.[5] Camelo-Grillo was captured in Los Angeles three days later, on August 15, 2016. (Exh. A at 7). On September 29, 2016, Colombia submitted another diplomatic note to the State Department, (id. at 6), to which it attached a letter from the Execution of Sentences and Precautionary Measures Court 24 in Bogota responding to the Government's question in a “Verbal Note of September 12, 2016” concerning the statute of limitations in Camelo-Grillo's case. (Id. at 7-8). The instant Request for Extradition followed on December 6, 2016.



         “‘Extradition from the United States is a diplomatic process' that is initiated when a foreign nation requests extradition of an individual from the State Department.” Manta v. Chertoff, 518 F.3d 1134, 1140 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Prasoprat v. Benov, 421 F.3d 1009, 1010 (9th Cir. 2005)). As such, “[e]xtradition is a matter of foreign policy entirely within the discretion of the executive branch, except to the extent that the statute [18 U.S.C. § 3184] interposes a judicial function.” Vo v. Benov, 447 F.3d 1235, 1237 (9th Cir. 2006). The Ninth Circuit has recently summarized the extradition process, and the judiciary's limited role in it, as follows:

The process begins when the foreign state seeking extradition makes a request directly to the U.S. Department of State. If the State Department determines that the request falls within the governing extradition treaty, a U.S. Attorney files a complaint in federal district court indicating an intent to extradite and seeking a provisional warrant for the person sought. See [Vo, 447 F.3d at 1237]; see also 18 U.S.C. § 3184. Once the warrant is issued, the district court, which may include a magistrate judge, conducts a hearing to determine “whether there is ‘evidence sufficient to sustain the charge under the provisions of the proper treaty or convention, ' or, in other words, whether there is probable cause.” Vo, 447 F.3d at 1237 (quoting in part 18 U.S.C. § 3184).
The Supreme Court has described these extradition hearings to determine probable cause as akin to a grand jury investigation or a preliminary hearing under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5.1. See, e.g., Charlton v. Kelly, 229 U.S. 447, 461-62, 33 S.Ct. 945, 57 L.Ed. 1274 (1913); Benson v. McMahon, 127 U.S. 457, 463, 8 S.Ct. 1240, 32 L.Ed. 234 (1888); [Ronald J. Hedges, International Extradition: A Guide for Judges (Federal Judicial Center 2014) (“FJC Manual”)] at 10. . . . We have said that the extradition court's review is limited to determining, first, whether the crime of which the person is accused is extraditable, that is, whether it falls within the terms of the extradition treaty between the United States and the requesting state, and second, whether there is probable cause to believe the person committed the crime charged. See, e.g., Cornejo-Barreto v. Seifert, 218 F.3d 1004, 1009 (9th Cir. 2000), overruled on other grounds by Trinidad y Garcia v. Thomas, 683 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc); see also Zanazanian v. United States, 729 F.2d 624, 625-26 (9th Cir. 1984) (describing the inquiry as “whether: [1] the extradition judge had jurisdiction to conduct proceedings; [2] the extradition court had jurisdiction over the fugitive; [3] the extradition treaty was in full force and effect; [4] the crime fell within the terms of the treaty; and [5] there was competent legal evidence to support a finding of extraditability”).
[¶] . . . [T]he scope of the extradition court's review “is limited to a narrow set of issues concerning the existence of a treaty, the offense charged, and the quantum of evidence offered. The larger assessment of extradition and its consequences is committed to the Secretary of State.” [United States v. Kin-Hong, 110 F.3d 103, 110 (1st Cir. 1997)]. . . . [C]ourts have emphasized that “[t]he person charged is not to be tried in this country for crimes he is alleged to have committed in the requesting country. That is the task of the . . . courts of the other country.” [Eain v. Wilkes, 641 F.2d 504, 508 (7th Cir. 1981)]; see FJC Manual at 10 (“An extradition hearing is not a criminal trial and is not intended to ascertain guilt.”). So long as “the judicial officer determines that there is probable cause, he ‘is required to certify the individual as extraditable to the Secretary of State.'” Vo, 447 F.3d at 1237 (quoting Blaxland v. Commonwealth Dir. of Pub. Prosecutions, 323 F.3d 1198, 1208 (9th Cir. 2003)).
Given the limited nature of extradition proceedings, neither the Federal Rules of Evidence nor the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure apply. See Mainero v. Gregg, 164 F.3d 1199, 1206 (9th Cir. 1999); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 1(a)(5)(A). Instead, 18 U.S.C. § 3190 provides that evidence may be admitted as long as the evidence is authenticated and would “be received for similar purposes by the tribunals of the foreign country from which the accused party shall have escaped.” The accused, however, does not have the right to introduce evidence in defense because that would require the government seeking his extradition “to go into a full trial on the merits in a foreign country.” [Collins v. Loisel, 259 U.S. 309, 316 (1922)] (quoting In re Wadge, 15 F. 864, 866 (S.D.N.Y. 1883)). . . . [¶]
If the extradition court determines that there is probable cause to extradite, it enters an order certifying extradition to the Secretary of State, who ultimately decides whether to surrender the individual to the requesting state. 18 U.S.C. § 3186; Vo, 447 F.3d at 1237; [Quinn v. Robinson, 783 F.2d 776, 789 (9th Cir. 1986)]; Exec. Order No. 11, 517, 35 Fed. Reg. 4, 937 (Mar. 19, 1970), reprinted in 18 U.S.C. § 3193 Historical & Revision Notes.

Santos v. Thomas, 830 F.3d 987, 991-93 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc); see also Manta, 518 F.3d at 1140 (the court “must certify the extradition” if it concludes that “the crime is extraditable” and that “there is probable cause to sustain the charge”). A certification of extradibility “can only be challenged via a writ of habeas corpus, because the order is not final and there is no other statutory provision for direct appeal of an extradition order.” Santos, 830 F.3d at 993.



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