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United States v. Duarte

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

January 4, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SERGIO NEFTALI MEJIA DUARTE, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S RENEWED MOTION TO LIMIT THE PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE AT TRIAL PURSUANT TO THE EXTRADITION TREATY WITH HONDURAS [1]

          ANDREA M. SIMONTON, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Presently pending before this Court is the Renewed Motion to Limit the Presentation of Evidence at Trial Pursuant to the Extradition Treaty with Honduras, ECF No. [31]. The Government has responded in opposition, ECF No. [42], and the Defendant has replied, ECF No. [47]. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned denies the motion with respect to a limitation on the evidence that the government may introduce to prove the conspiracy offense for which the Defendant was extradited; and, grants the motion to the extent it requests the Court to limit the offense charged to a conspiracy that began on February 27, 2012.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Sergio Neftali Mejia Duarte is charged in a one-count Indictment with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, intending that it would be unlawfully imported into the United States, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 959(a)(2) and 963. The dates of the conspiracy alleged in the Indictment are from at least as early as 2006, and continuing through in or around June 2014, ECF No. [1]. The Indictment was returned on July 14, 2015; and Mr. Mejia Duarte initially appeared in this Court on October 26, 2017, following his extradition from Honduras.

         As described in more detail below, the issue presented in the above motion concerns the effect of the extradition treaty and the order granting extradition on the evidence that can be presented at trial and the scope of the conspiracy for which Mr. Mejia Duarte can be tried. Specifically, the Defendant contends that the extradition treaty and the order authorize his prosecution only for events that occurred after February 27, 2012, which is the date that Honduras amended its Constitution to permit the extradition of Honduran nationals, ECF Nos. [31] and [47]. The Defendant therefore contends, pursuant to the rule of specialty, that he may be tried only for crimes that occurred after that date, and the Government may only present evidence of events that occurred after February 27, 2012, ECF Nos. [31] and [47].

         In response, the Government contends that the rule of specialty does not apply to the evidence that the Government may use to prove the crime with which the Defendant was charged; and, that since the extradition request submitted to the Honduran government was based on the charge contained in the Indictment, which spanned the time from 2006 through June 2014, the Government may convict him for events that occurred throughout the entire time frame, ECF No. [42].

         II. THE EXTRADITION TREATY AND ORDER OF EXTRADITION

         It is undisputed that the Extradition Treaty between the United States and Honduras, permits extradition to the United States for persons accused of narcotics trafficking offenses such as the offense charged in the case at bar, and that the Treaty was in effect prior to the time of the crime charged in the pending Indictment. A copy of the extradition treaty is attached to the Government's Response in opposition to the motion, ECF No. [42-1]. Pursuant to Article IV of that Treaty, a person cannot be tried for any crime or offense other than the one for which he was surrendered.

         The Order granting extradition of Honduran Sergio Neftali Mejia Duarte, entered by the Extradition Court in Honduras, is attached to the Defendant's Reply, ECF No. [47-1].[2]That Order reflects that the United States is seeking extradition through the above-mentioned Treaty, and reviews the procedural history of the extradition process. It notes that the Defendant did not oppose extradition “if it goes conditioned to not be judged for crimes prior to the year 2012 of the entry into force of the constitutional reform that allows extradition and do not summit [sic] evidentiary elements, which may lead to a trial in that country, ” ECF No. [47-1] at 6. Under the section of the Order entitled, “Legal Basics, ” the Order states that it is appropriate to grant the extradition of Honduran citizen Sergio Neftali Mejia Duarte under certain Extradition conditions that are listed in the eighth part of that section, ECF No. [47-1] at 10-11, which include the following:

2. The Requiring State can only impute to Mr. SERGIO NEFTALI MEJIA DUARTE, facts that have been made after the Amendment to the Constitution that allows the Extradition of Hondurans, effective as of February 27, 2012. 3. Mr. SERGIO NEFTALI MEJIA DUARTE, may not be tried in the requesting State for crimes other than the accusation that motivated the request for extradition filed. (Article IV of the Extradition Treaty).

         After stating the legal basis for extradition and the conditions, the Order grants extradition as follows:

Granting the extradition presented by the United States of America, for the purpose of the Honduran SERGIO NEFTALI MEJIA DUARTE, to be tried in the district court of the United States of America, for the Southern District of Florida, for events that occurred after the February 27th, 2012, for the following charge: conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable quantity of cocaine with knowledge that the cocaine would be illegally imported into the United States, in violation of Title 21 of the United States Code, sections 963, 959(a)(2) and 960(b)(1)(B) . . . .

ECF No. 47-1] at 11.

         In sum, based on the foregoing, the undersigned concludes that the extradition Treaty between the United States and Honduras permits extradition for the charged offense; that prior to February 27, 2012, the Honduran government would not permit extradition of a Honduran citizen; and the Order granting extradition ...


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