U.S. battles Mexico in extradition war
September 30, 1997
Web posted at: 8:26 p.m. EDT (0026 GMT)
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A 30-year-old California ex-con accused
of murdering four people, including two little girls, has
become the center of an extradition tug of war between the
United States and Mexico.
Mexico is refusing to extradite David "Spooky" Alvarez of Los
Angeles. Alvarez, currently jailed in Mexico, could face the
death penalty in California if convicted of the 1996
That punishment, say Mexican officials, is at the heart of
the reason he won't be extradited. But history and politics
may be tugging on the issue too.
Mexico bans the death penalty. In 1978, the United States
and Mexico signed an extradition treaty reflecting Mexico's
Under the treaty, Mexico can refuse to release any suspect
who could face death.
But observers say that historically, the United States has
gone out of its way to get alleged offenders out of Mexico
and before U.S. courts.
"Procuring, kidnapping individuals in Mexico to have them
brought before U.S. courts is not an unheard of thing," says
Edwin Smith, a professor of law and international relations
at the University of Southern California.
Mexican national recently executed
The Mexican government has also not looked favorably on the
treatment of Mexican nationals by the U.S. justice system.
Just this month in Virginia, Mexican national Mario Murphy
was executed in a murder-for-hire case. Virginia's governor
refused to grant clemency, even after pressure from Mexican
Thirty-three other Mexican nationals remain on death row in
the U.S. One Mexican citizen spent 15 years on death row
before a judge recently released him, citing lack of
evidence. Mexico's counsel general in Los Angeles, Jose Angel
Pescador, says that case in particular is complicating the
extradition request for David Alvarez.
Mexico may set Alvarez free
As for Alvarez, Mexican officials say they're just trying to
abide by the treaty. They're also saying they may set him
free, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil
"That's not justice! That's not fair!" Garcetti says.
|Garcetti explains the extradition
(153K/13 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Pescador states Mexico's position
(179K/8 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Mexico has offered to extradite Alvarez if California waives
the death penalty, Garcetti says, but the prosecutor has no
intention of doing that.
Garcetti admits U.S. Attorney Janet Reno already asked him to
waive the death penalty in an attempt to settle the issue.
He is, however, firm: "It's not the right thing to do."
Mexican officials are also firm, and they're insisting
Garcetti bend. "It's very important that Mr. Garcetti has a
long conversation with Janet Reno," says Pescador.
Correspondent Jennifer Auther contributed to this report.