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The Valley

Change Sought in Return of Suspects from Mexico

March 18, 2003|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

A congressman and Los Angeles County's district attorney and sheriff called upon the Bush administration Monday to renegotiate the extradition treaty with Mexico to secure the return of 60 murder suspects, including a man charged with the murder of a sheriff's deputy.

Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) said the president must renegotiate the treaty to ensure that the possibility of capital punishment or life imprisonment in the United States will not interfere with extradition from Mexico.

In 2001, the Mexican supreme court handed down a decision forbidding the extradition of any person facing a sentence of life imprisonment or death, McKeon said.

McKeon said Mexico has become a fugitive paradise for murder suspects such as Jorge "Armando" Arroyo Garcia, a Mexican national who was illegally in Irwindale when he allegedly shot Deputy David March to death during an April 2002 traffic stop.

Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said the federal government has failed to protect its borders and to ensure extradition to those who kill its citizens.

"Al Qaeda members could blow up a building in California and then run to Mexico to avoid prosecution," he said.

In some cases, such as the murder of a Rosemead family of four, the accused was convicted in Mexico of killing two Mexican citizens who died in the attack. About 150 have been similarly convicted in Mexican courts since 1993.

"We need the killer of Deputy David March back in the United States, and nothing else is adequate," Sheriff Lee Baca said. "Death has no boundaries."

Baca said the county is seeing a growing number of accused criminals who have entered the country illegally.

About 23% of those in county jail are undocumented immigrants as are about 40,000 in the state prisons, Baca said. Garcia was deported three times before March's slaying and had previous arrests for attempted murder and drug sales, Baca said.

Mexican diplomatic officials in Los Angeles said Monday that they are committed to working with U.S. authorities.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Janice Maurizi said in Marsh's case Mexican officials have told her they will not extradite Garcia.

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