In the Matter of The Extradition of Jose Luis Munoz Santos

Decision Date13 June 2011
Docket NumberNo. CV 06–05092 MMM (AJW).,CV 06–05092 MMM (AJW).
Citation795 F.Supp.2d 966
PartiesIn the Matter of the EXTRADITION OF Jose Luis Munoz SANTOS, A Fugitive from the Government of the United Mexican States.
CourtU.S. District Court — Central District of California


Joseph N. Akrotirianakis, AUSA, Office of US Attorney, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff.Dean Richard Gits, Callie G. Steele, Federal Public Defenders Office, Los Angeles, CA, for Defendant.


ANDREW J. WISTRICH, United States Magistrate Judge.


The United Mexican States (“Mexico”) has requested the extradition of Jose Luis Munoz Santos, aka El Pepe Munoz,” aka “El Patillas,” aka Jose Luis Hernandez Santos (“Munoz” 1), pursuant to the Extradition Treaty between the United States of America (“United States” or “government”) and Mexico, signed at Mexico City on May 4, 1978 (“Extradition Treaty”), and entered into force January 25, 1980. See T.I.A.S. No. 9656, 31 U.S.T. 5059, 1980 WL 309106 (Jan. 25, 1980). The court has considered the extensive record compiled in this case and the legal arguments made by counsel during the April 19, 2011 extradition hearing.

Following the filing of a complaint (“Complaint”) and the issuance of a provisional arrest warrant on May 12, 2006, Munoz was arrested in the United States on May 17, 2006.2 The government subsequently filed Mexico's formal request for extradition, with supporting documentation. [Filing of Redacted Formal Extradition Papers and Request for Extradition filed August 15, 2006, Docket No. 10 (cited as “Formal Papers” in text, “FP” in citations) ]. The government originally requested Munoz's extradition to Mexico to face charges of kidnapping and homicide arising from his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of Dignora Hermosillo Garcia (“Hermosillo”) and her two minor daughters, K.C.H. and C.J.C.H., on or about August 18, 2005, and the homicide of C.J.C.H. [FP at 0001–0002; Government's Extradition Memorandum filed May 14, 2010, Docket No. 124 (“Extradition Mem.”) at 2; Notice of Filing of Diplomatic Note No. 05059 and Declaration of Haydee Chavez Sanchez filed Nov. 3, 2009, Docket No. 112 (redacted copy; original under seal) ].

Subsequent legal proceedings in Mexico narrowed the charge against Munoz to kidnapping only. On September 4, 2007, a Mexican criminal court issued a superseding warrant for Munoz's arrest on the charge of kidnapping Hermosillo and her two daughters (the “Warrant”). At Mexico's behest, the government filed supplemental papers seeking the extradition of Munoz to Mexico to face the kidnapping charge. [ See Extradition Mem. 3; Government's Filing of Supplemental Formal Extradition Papers and Affidavit of Haydee Chavez Sanchez filed May 14, 2010, Docket No. 126 (redacted, English-only copy; original under seal) (2010 Supp. FP”) at 4–9; Notice of Filing of Diplomatic Notes Nos. 05454 and 09613, filed April 13, 2010, Docket No. 123, at Exhibit (“Ex.”) D; Government's Filing of Supplemental Formal Extradition Papers, filed March 12, 2009, Docket No. 79 (2009 Supp. FP”) (redacted copy; original under seal) at 8–34].

Munoz filed an opposition to the extradition request with supporting exhibits. [ See Opposition (“Opp.”) and Exhibits filed June 3, 2010, Docket Nos. 141–145 (under seal) ]. The government filed a reply memorandum on June 8, 2010 (“Gov. Reply”), and Munoz filed a sur-reply under seal on June 9, 2010.

On February 16, 2011, an order was filed denying Munoz's request to call witnesses and present oral testimony during the extradition hearing.

Standard for Certification of Extraditability

Extradition from the United States is governed by 18 U.S.C. section 3184, which confers jurisdiction on “any justice or judge of the United States, or any magistrate judge authorized so to do by a court of the United States” to conduct an extradition hearing under the relevant extradition treaty between the United States and the requesting nation, and to issue a certification of extraditability to the Secretary of State.3 18 U.S.C. § 3184; see Cornejo–Barreto v. Seifert, 218 F.3d 1004, 1009 (9th Cir.2000).4

To obtain a certification of extraditability on behalf of a requesting state, the United States has the burden of demonstrating each of the following elements: (1) the court possesses subject matter jurisdiction to conduct extradition proceedings; (2) the court possesses personal jurisdiction over the person named in the extradition request; (3) a valid extradition treaty exists between the requesting state and the United States; (4) the extradition treaty between the requesting state and the United States is, and at all relevant times has been, in full force and effect; (5) the person named in the extradition request is charged with having committed a criminal offense within the jurisdiction of the requesting state; (6) the charged offense is extraditable under the relevant extradition treaty (that is, the offense charged falls within the terms of the relevant extradition treaty); (7) the person named in the extradition request is the person arrested and brought before the court; and (8) there is competent evidence establishing probable cause to believe that the person named in the extradition request committed the charged offense. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 3184, 3190; Manta v. Chertoff, 518 F.3d 1134, 1140 (9th Cir.2008); Prasoprat v. Benov, 421 F.3d 1009, 1013 (9th Cir.2005), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1171, 126 S.Ct. 1335, 164 L.Ed.2d 51 (2006); Cornejo–Barreto, 218 F.3d at 1009–1010; Quinn v. Robinson, 783 F.2d 776, 782–783 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 882, 107 S.Ct. 271, 93 L.Ed.2d 247 (1986). “Extradition treaties are to be liberally construed so as to effect their purpose, that is, to surrender fugitives for trial for their alleged offenses.” Valentine v. United States ex rel. Neidecker, 299 U.S. 5, 14, 57 S.Ct. 100, 81 L.Ed. 5 (1936).

During the extradition hearing, Munoz's counsel stipulated that all elements except the element of probable cause have been satisfied. [ See Transcript of April 19, 2011 Extradition Hearing (“Extradition Hearing Transcript”) at 5–6]. Accordingly, the only disputed issue is whether the record contains competent evidence establishing probable cause to believe that Munoz committed the charged offense of kidnapping.

Authentication requirement

The admissibility of evidence in extradition proceedings is governed by “the general extradition law of the United States and the provisions of the” Extradition Treaty. Emami v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 834 F.2d 1444, 1450 (9th Cir.1987); accord, Oen Yin–Choy v. Robinson, 858 F.2d 1400, 1406 (9th Cir.1988). “The authentication requirements for documentary evidence are contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3190, which specifies that ‘the certificate of the principal diplomatic or consular officer of the United States resident in such foreign country shall be proof that submitted documents are authenticated in the manner required.’ Barapind v. Enomoto, 400 F.3d 744, 748 (9th Cir.2005) (en banc) (per curiam); see Bingham v. Bradley, 241 U.S. 511, 517, 36 S.Ct. 634, 60 L.Ed. 1136 (1916) (holding that documentary evidence that was “properly authenticated in accordance with” the predecessor provision to section 3190 was “competent” and “sufficient” to establish probable cause).

The Extradition Treaty states that the documents “accompany[ing] the request for extradition, shall be received in evidence when: ... b) In the case of a request emanating from the United Mexican States, they are certified by the principle [sic] diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in Mexico.” Extradition Treaty, art. 10, § 6. The Extradition Treaty imposes no supplementary authentication requirements or other requirements for the admissibility of documentary evidence.

The Federal Rules of Evidence do not apply in extradition hearings. Then v. Melendez, 92 F.3d 851, 855 (9th Cir.1996); Oen Yin–Choy, 858 F.2d at 1406. Thus, for example, hearsay evidence is admissible, as are unsigned translations of a witness's statements and unsworn statements of absent witnesses, provided the evidence is properly authenticated and—as is true in this case—the governing extradition treaty does not require that witness statements be executed under oath. See Collins v. Loisel, 259 U.S. 309, 317, 42 S.Ct. 469, 66 L.Ed. 956 (1922); Barapind, 400 F.3d at 748; Then, 92 F.3d at 855; In re Requested Extradition of Smyth, 61 F.3d 711, 720–721 (9th Cir.), as amended by 73 F.3d 887 (9th Cir.1995), cert. denied, 518 U.S. 1022, 116 S.Ct. 2558, 135 L.Ed.2d 1076 (1996); Emami, 834 F.2d at 1451–1452; Quinn, 783 F.2d at 815; Zanazanian v. United States, 729 F.2d 624, 626–628 (9th Cir.1984).

Munoz does not challenge the authentication of any of the government's evidence. That evidence was contained in various filings accompanied by certificates with ribbons and seals signed by the then-current principal consular officer, the “Minister Counselor of Consular Affairs” of the United States at Mexico City, Mexico, attesting that the annexed documents were “properly and legally authenticated so as to entitle them to be received in evidence for similar purposes by the tribunals of the United Mexican States.” [ See FP 25, 78; 2010 Supp. FP 4; 2009 Supp. FP 5]. Accordingly, the government's evidence is admissible for purposes of establishing probable cause.

Munoz, however, contends that the government's evidence substantively fails to establish probable cause. Munoz further argues that even if the government's probable cause showing is deemed sufficient, additional evidence offered by Munoz is admissible and “obliterates” the government's evidence of probable cause.

Probable cause standard

The Extradition Treaty states that an “extradition shall be granted only if the evidence be found sufficient, according to the laws of the requested Party, either to justify the committal for trial of the person sought if the offense of which he has...

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