Mexico Faults U.S. in Border Suspect's Release; Officials Never Asked for Extradition, Embassy Says

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 15, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Mexico Faults U.S. in Border Suspect's Release; Officials Never Asked for Extradition, Embassy Says


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Mexican law-enforcement authorities released from jail a man suspected of running over and killing a U.S. Border Patrol agent during an aborted drug-smuggling attempt because U.S. officials never asked that he be held or sought his extradition during the five months he was in custody, the Mexican Embassy in Washington said Monday.

Jesus Navarro Montes, 22, was detained Jan. 22 by Mexican state and federal authorities in the town of El Yaqui in the northern state of Sonora in connection with the killing three days earlier of Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar Jr. He was released from custody on June 18, a week before the U.S. government presented Mexico with a provisional arrest request for his extradition.

Mexican Embassy spokesman Ricardo Alday said Mr. Navarro's release was ordered by Mexicali Federal Judge Laura Serrano Alderete after she ruled against pending and unrelated smuggling charges against Mr. Navarro, saying Mexican authorities who brought the case lacked jurisdiction. At the time, no U.S. request was on file to hold Mr. Navarro on any other charges, Mr. Alday said.

Although we had asked the U.S. government a couple of times before his release to help us deal with the matter so we could hold Mr. Navarro, we got nothing whatsoever. The U.S. response never came, Mr. Alday said.

No arrest warrant was presented, no evidence was offered and no one from the U.S. government contacted Mexican authorities concerning his extradition, he said. We couldn't hold him with no evidence of a crime. We needed help, but we never got it.

Mr. Alday said federal officials in Mexico City were not aware of the release until after it occurred, and the Mexican attorney general's office has since issued an order that Mr. Navarro be located and detained. He also said Mexican federal officials appealed the ruling in Mr. Navarro's immigration case.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr on Monday declined to discuss the case.

We appreciate and understand the intense public interest this matter has generated. Since the day Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar was killed, the Justice Department has remained fully committed to the investigation of his death, said Mr. Carr. "As with all ongoing criminal investigations, however, we cannot provide details with respect to the nature and timing of possible charges against any possible defendant or defendants.

With respect to the separate issue of extradition proceedings, the Justice Department does not comment publicly upon the underlying charges or the evidence supporting a possible extradition of a citizen from another nation, he said.

The U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, which has been in charge of the Aguilar prosecution, has referred inquiries to the Justice Department.

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