The Fugitive

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Luis Saenz, an alleged drug cartel hit man in Guadalajara on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List, was “living a relatively normal life when he was arrested last week in Mexico.” Saenz is connected with four murders in California from 1998-2008. When Saenz was taken into custody, the FBI stated that he identified himself as “Giovanni Torres.” Giovanni Torres is one of 21 different aliases that the FBI believes Saenz has used. To disguise his true identity, Saenz put on weight and underwent procedures to remove tattoos and even went as far as trying to change his fingerprints. Saenz is accused of three murders alleged to have taken place in Los Angeles in 1998, including the killings of two alleged rival gang members, and the “kidnap, rape and slaying of his estranged girlfriend two weeks later.” It is alleged that Saenz killed his girlfriend because Saenz believed she was going to inform the police about the gang slayings. In 2009, he was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives List after his alleged involvement with another homicide in Whittier, California in the year 2008. That particular murder was believed to have occurred as a result of a drug debt. The FBI consider Saenz highly dangerous because of his reported statements indicating plans “to kill a police officer upon his arrest.” FBI agent Scott Garriola stated that  “we were dogged in our determination to find him, but when you have that many aliases and you have that much money and connections and you move around that much, it makes it a little more difficult.” On Friday he was flown to Los Angeles where he told reporters that “he was not guilty for life.”

“On foreign soil, FBI special agents generally do not have authority to make arrests except in certain cases where, with the consent of the host country, Congress has granted the FBI extraterritorial jurisdiction.”  (FBI.GOV) . Although they were able to apprehend this fugitive in this particular case,  in November of 2011, U.S Attorney General Holder acknowledged “unacceptable flaws in America’s system for apprehending international fugitives” (Chicago Tribune) and “that the federal government needs to coordinate more closely with state and local law enforcement agencies after suspects flee across U.S. borders.” (Chicago Tribune). He further stated that the United States needs “to do a better job in interacting with our Mexican counterparts to capture those fugitives.”

With that being said, what do you think can be done to improve the FBI’s system for apprehending international fugitives and what can be done on an international level to improve extradition treaties to make the process of policing international criminals more effective?



Sources: NBC NEWS

Chicago Tribune




  1. There currently exists an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Mexico that was ratified by the U.S. in 1979. Article 2(1) of the treaty states, “Extradition shall take place, subject to this Treaty, for wilful acts which fall within any of the clauses of the Appendix and are punishable in accordance with the laws of both Contracting Parties by deprivation of liberty the maximum of which shall not be less than one year.” The first section of the appendix deals with murder/manslaughter. There are numerous other offenses that can lead to extradition, however, even if there is proof of such a crime, Section 9(1) says, “Neither Contracting Party shall be bound to deliver up its own nationals.”
    Sometimes Mexico agrees to extradite to the U.S., as was the case of Humberto Alvarez Machain in 1990. Sometimes countries refuse extradition, and then the issue for the U.S. is whether the U.S. government can perform a state-sponsored abduction, without violating the extradition treaty or other international law. When the crime is committed in the United States, the U.S. retains territorial jurisdiction. When a suspect is abducted from a foreign nation for crimes committed in the U.S., the U.S. feels that defendants should not be able to escape jurisdiction just because they were abducted. The Kerr-Frisbie doctrine says it doesn’t matter that the defendant is abducted, for as long as the defendant is in the U.S., the U.S. has jurisdiction (territorially). The U.S. has to be careful not to violate the defendant’s human rights, otherwise, as in Toscanino, the U.S. will not have jurisdiction. In Toscanino, since the defendant was abused and the abductors violated the law through their illegal surveillance, the U.S. was not granted jurisdiction.
    Should the U.S. government be allowed to abduct suspects in certain scenarios where murder or some other crimes occur in the U.S. that ‘shock the conscience’ and where foreign nations refuse extradition? Would this help answer Peter’s question? Can state sponsored abduction be performed without violating international law, or does it always impose too much on the sovereignty of a nation?


    Kerr v. Illinois 119 U.S. 436 (1886)
    Frisbie v. Collins 42 U.S. 519 (1952)
    United States v. Alvarez Machain 504 U.S. 655 (1992)
    United States v. Toscanino 500 F.2d 267 (2d Cir. 1974)
    U.S.-Mexico Extradition Treaty

  2. Pat’s comment may be the most well thought out, thorough, and professional comment I have seen all semester. I can guarantee that he did more research for that one comment than I have done for my entire Note Topic so far. How do I even follow that? I mean, he cited five different sources. I can assure you that I will not even cite one source for this comment. Anyway, I’ll give it a shot…
    I think the main thing that we must focus on for improving the tracking, apprehension, and extradition of international criminals is cooperation between nations. Perhaps there should be incentives for host countries to allow FBI agents jurisdiction to make arrests on their soil. If countries could work together to bring fugitives to justice, then we would not have to worry about the legality and other issues that arise when we attempt a state sponsored abduction. When these things go wrong, not only can the fugitive wind up going free, but there can be a high probability of casualties and the risk of creating an international incident.

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