“Belmokhtar Indictment Unsealed by U.S. Prosecutor”

July 22, 2013

The Wall Street Journal on July 21, 2013 released the following:

By Margaret Coker

“U.S. prosecutors have unsealed an indictment charging Mokhtar Belmokhtar with masterminding the deadly terrorist attack earlier this year at a southern Algerian gas plant that killed dozens of workers, including three Americans.

Mr. Belmokhtar, an Algerian national who leads an al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist militia in anti-Western attacks across North Africa, is described in the indictment which was announced Friday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara as a “fanatical jihadist” who “unleashed a reign of terror … in furtherance of his self-proclaimed goal of waging bloody jihad against the West.”

Mr. Belmokhtar, who was not known to be present during the gas plant attack, is currently at large. The U.S. government has put a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or death.

The legal charges, described in an eight-count complaint, are related to this year’s attack on the gas plant operated by British Petroleum, Norway’s Statoil, Japan’s JGC Corp. and Algeria’s Sonatrach, as well as other terrorist attacks allegedly committed by al Qaeda-linked organizations and Mr. Belmokhtar over several years. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaeda, kidnapping of internationally protected persons and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.

U.S. authorities have been pursuing charges against Mr. Belmokhtar primarly because of the loss of American lives in the Jan. 16 incident whereby a militia under Mr. Belmokhtar’s control invaded the Tiguentourine gas plant in southern Algeria. After a four-day siege, the Algerian military sent anti-terrorist troops to free the hostages, sparking heated battles with Mr. Belmokhtar’s men. A total of 37 hostages were killed, including three U.S. citizens.

On the day after the siege ended, Mr. Belmokhtar appeared in an online video claiming responsibility for the attack on behalf of al-Qaeda.

U.S. officials said that this claim was confirmed by three of the hostage-takers involved in the siege who were arrested and detained by Algerian authorities and later separately interviewed by U.S. law enforcement officers. The hostage-takers each acknowledged their membership in an al Qaeda group, of which Mr. Belmokhtar was the “emir,” and further stated that they had received military training in another country prior to traveling to Algeria to conduct the attack in the name of al Qaeda, according to a press release issued by the FBI on Friday.

“Belmokhtar brought terror and blood to these innocent people and now we intend to bring Belmokhtar to justice,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Mr. Belmokhtar was designated as a foreign terrorist by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2003 for his participation in al Qaeda-linked organizations across North Africa, but until the January attack he was not known to have killed any Americans. According to the indictment, Mr. Belmokhtar orchestrated terror attacks including the kidnapping of U.N. diplomats and other Western hostages.”

Mr. Belmokhtar is also on Interpol’s Red Notice List here.

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Man Wanted for Murder in Mexico Arrested in DeQueen

May 18, 2012

Arkansas Matters on May 17, 2012 released the following:

“By: KARK 4 News

A Mexican citizen wanted for murder in his homeland is in federal custody in Southwest Arkansas, following his arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Pedro Gonzalez-Zarate, 73, was arrested today in DeQueen by the ERO New Orleans Fugitive Operations Team based in Little Rock. Gonzalez-Zarate was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice for a homicide committed more than five years ago.

According to the Red Notice, Isidro Gonzalez-Diaz died of blood loss due to gunshot wounds on December 27, 2006 in the Village of San Miguel de Allende in the Mexican State of Guanajuato. Shortly before the shooting, Gonzalez-Diaz’s parents had seen their son and Gonzalez-Zarate engaged in an argument over a plot of land. The parents were initially unconcerned, as family members frequently argued over the issue but had never resorted to violence. However, as they were having lunch they heard screams and ran outside to find their son bleeding to death on the disputed plot. It is unclear how the victim is related to Gonzalez-Zarate.

On May 8, the ERO team in Little Rock received the Interpol Red Notice about Gonzalez-Zarate. Two days later officers from the ICE team, assisted by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and DeQueen Police Department, located Gonzalez-Zarate on a farm near DeQueen and arrested him without incident. Gonzalez is currently detained without bond on immigration charges. If he is ordered removed by an immigration judge, his deportation will be coordinated with the Government of Mexico. ICE’s Office of Chief Counsel will prosecute Gonzalez’s immigration case.

“ICE works closely with our international law enforcement partners to identify, locate and deport aliens who are wanted in their home countries for allegedly committing heinous crimes,” said Philip Miller, field office director of ICE ERO New Orleans. “We will not allow criminal aliens to use the United States as a safe haven from their crimes.” Miller oversees ERO activities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Judge considers extradition of woman accused of Bosnian war crimes

November 8, 2011

Kentucky.com on November 8, 2011 released the following:

“By Jennifer Hewlett

For three hours Monday, a federal judge in Lexington heard testimony on whether a Croatian-born woman accused of murdering and torturing civilians during the Bosnian civil war in the 1990s should be extradited from Kentucky to face charges in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Azra Basic, 52, a former Croatian soldier, is accused of murdering and torturing ethnic Serbians at prison camps from April to June 1992. She’d lived in Kentucky for several years when she was taken into custody in March by federal authorities.

Patrick Nash, Basic’s attorney, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier that Basic was in two Croatian army brigades, but not the two brigades that authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina cite in documents. Basic, Nash said, did not serve in a military police unit or as a guard or commander of a prison camp.

Nash said that a prisoner Basic is alleged to have fatally stabbed in the neck, Blagoje Djuras, is clearly identified as a soldier and not a civilian in documents supplied to the U.S. government. And Nash said there were indications that at least some alleged witnesses to atrocities alleged to have been committed by Basic were also soldiers and not civilians.

Nash also said there were two Azras that overseas witnesses in the case talk about.

The “great big hole” in the case is how witnesses get from the Azra who did these things to the Azra in the U.S., Nash said. He questioned the validity of a six-photo lineup in which Basic was the only non-Serbian.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart said several people positively identified Basic as the person being sought from the photos. He said he didn’t think there is any evidence contradicting assertions that the witnesses were civilians at the time of the alleged crimes.

“I think Mr. Nash makes a good argument for acquittal beyond a reasonable doubt,” Arehart said. But he added that that was not at issue in an extradition hearing.

The attorneys also argued Monday over whether a required warrant for Basic’s arrest had been produced. Nash said a warrant has never been produced, while government attorneys maintained that a notice issued by Interpol after that agency received a letter from a Bosnian prosecutor is the warrant.

More than 100,000 people were killed in the war that followed the collapse of Yugoslovia. Muslim Bosnians, Catholic Croats and Christian Orthodox Serbs were pitted against one another in the war.

Nash said records show that Basic’s father was a Muslim and her mother was a Croatian Catholic, and that Basic had citizenship in both Croatia and Bosnia. Basic and her then-husband entered the United States as refugees in 1994, Nash said.

“In 2007, she became a U.S. citizen, right here in this courthouse,” he said.

Three people testified at Monday’s extradition hearing, including Karen Mingst, a University of Kentucky professor, who discussed the history of the former Yugoslovia and the cultural differences there. Also testifying were Lucille Loman of Stanton, with whom Basic was living when she was taken in by federal marshals, and Edith Fultz of Cynthiana, Loman’s sister-in-law, who also had come to know Basic. Nash indicated that he called the latter two witnesses to show that Basic was not trying to hide from anyone or hide her past while living in Kentucky.

Loman said she first met Basic about eight or nine years ago, when she and Basic worked together at Tanbark Health Care Center in Lexington. Basic was a nurse’s aide; Loman was a private sitter. At the time, Basic lived in an apartment in Jessamine County, she said.

Loman said people knew Basic by the names “Isabelle” and “Azra.” Some people called Basic “Easy” because they could not pronounce Azra, she said.

“She just became one of our family,” Loman said. “She don’t have no family, you know. I wanted her to live with us because she didn’t have no family in the United States.”

Loman said Basic lived with her and her family in Lexington for about a year, paying her share of the bills. When Loman’s family decided to move to Powell County, she invited Basic to move there with them, and she did, Loman said. Basic worked at a nursing home in Stanton for a time. She was working at a Nestle’s food plant in Mount Sterling at the time of her arrest.

Loman said Basic told her “some” about her military service. Basic told her she became sick to her stomach when she killed a man while in the military, she said.

“It was her or him to be killed,” Loman said.

Basic also told Loman she had been taken prisoner by Serbs, and was beaten and raped by Serbs, Loman said.

Wier gave attorneys about two weeks to file post-hearing briefs and said he would rule on the extradition issue as soon as possible.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina here.

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Fugitive David Britto may be out of reach of American authorities forever

September 9, 2011

Sun Sentinel on September 8, 2011 released the following:

“Fugitive cop who fled to Brazil likely to avoid extradition

By Megan O’Matz and Jerome Burdi, Sun Sentinel

BOYNTON BEACH— Fugitive David Britto may be out of reach of American authorities forever.

This city’s former Police Officer of the Year was under house arrest, awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges, when he cut the electronic monitoring bracelet from his ankle Aug. 24 and hopped on a plane in Miami, bound for his native country, Brazil, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Brazil’s constitution prohibits the extradition of Brazilian nationals.

“Basically he’s gone unless the Brazilian government, through political pressure, allows U.S. agents to pick him up,” said attorney David Rowe, an adjunct law professor at the University of Miami and an extradition expert.

Britto, 28, appears to have successfully gambled on a high-stakes escape, rather than risk facing years in prison. He is to stand trial beginning Tuesday.

The daring run, however, raises questions about how he pulled it off and who, if anyone, helped him.

On Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Service, which is spearheading the hunt for Britto, said federal agents are looking at every possible way of getting Britto back to Miami, where he faces one count of conspiring to possess and traffic 500 grams of methamphetamine.

“We’re still pursuing him,” Marshals Service spokesman Barry Golden said. “He’s one of the big cases that are on the top of our list … We’re still tracking down every lead. We’re trying to get him back into custody at all costs.”

Attempts to get Britto back are sure to be challenging, if not downright impossible.

A 1964 treaty between the United States and Brazil allows for the extradition of anyone accused or convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of a year or more.

But in 1988, Brazil amended its constitution, expressly stating that “no Brazilian shall be extradited.”

People born elsewhere who become Brazilian citizens, however, can be handed over if they’re charged with certain drug-related crimes. Foreigners who find safe harbor in Brazil and are accused of political crimes elsewhere are not extradited.

The strict policy has strained Brazil’s diplomatic relations.

Earlier this summer Italy denounced Brazil for refusing to turn over political refugee Cesare Battisti, a former Italian militant, convicted in absentia of killing four people in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s refusal to extradite an Ohio woman, Claudia Hoerig, charged in the 2007 murder of her husband, has outraged an Ohio congressman.

U.S. Rep. Timothy Ryan, a Democrat, introduced legislation in June to withhold $14 million a year in aid to Brazil until it reverses its ban on extraditing nationals. The bill is in a House committee.

Ryan has gone so far as to post an ever-changing clock on his website, showing the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds that Hoerig “has escaped justice.” On Thursday, it registered 1,641 days.

“It’s been a nightmare experience on our end up here,” Trumbull County, Ohio, Prosecuting Attorney Dennis Wilkins said of efforts to extradite Hoerig. “I’ve dealt with President [George W.] Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the attorney general and now with [President Barack] Obama and Hillary Clinton, and we’ve not gotten satisfactory action.”

In Florida, the tamper alert on Britto’s ankle bracelet went off the night of Aug. 24, notifying a federal probation officer, according to court records. But U.S. Marshals were not told until the next morning. Only then was a warrant was issued for his arrest, authorities said.

That gave Britto a window of time to escape.

“You cannot respond the next morning. That’s a major security breach,” said Rowe, the University of Miami law professor.

Court documents say Britto, who speaks Portuguese, boarded a plane Aug. 24 in Miami bound for Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

It is unclear what documentation he used to board the international flight.

As a standard condition of bond, Britto had to relinquish “all passports and travel documents” to the Pretrial Services Office.

“Mr. Britto’s Brazilian passport was revoked as a standard condition of release by the court,” said Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington.

Britto was free on a $100,000 bond. He and his mother signed for half the bond and the other half was guaranteed by bailbonds.com, a Miami company.

Britto may be able to live out his days in Brazil, but he likely is landlocked, said Douglas McNabb, whose Washington, D.C., firm specializes in international extradition law.

Federal authorities likely will file a lifetime “red notice” with Interpol’s 188 member countries that will trigger Britto’s arrest if he leaves Brazil.

“He may leave Brazil a month from now or 30 years from now and go to Costa Rica,” McNabb said. “And when he goes through customs, his red notice [shows up].”

That’s what happened to director Roman Polanski, who was arrested in 2009 in Switzerland after being wanted by the United States since 1978 on a statutory-rape conviction. He hid in France, avoiding extradition countries, until he was captured. Polanski was freed by Swiss authorities on a legal technicality the following year.

It’s unknown if someone helped Britto reach Brazil.

According to his website, http://www.blessedwarrior.com, he was born in Brazil and moved to Queens, N.Y., when he was 7.

He joined the Boynton Beach police in 2006.

The Police Department still has an open internal investigation into Britto’s escape, but he’s likely to be fired soon, police said Thursday.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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