Accused Member of Foreign Terrorist Organization Extradited to United States on Hostage Taking Charges
The Department of Justice announced on March 12, 2012 that Alexander Beltran Herrera, a/k/a Jhon Beltrain Herrera, a/k/a Rodrigo Pirinolo, an accused member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (“FARC”), has been extradited from Colombia to face hostage taking and terrorism charges in the United States.
The indictment alleges that the FARC is an armed and violent organization in the Republic of Colombia. The indictment further alleges that the FARC is a “highly structured criminal organization” divided into seven geographic “blocks” — the Caribbean block, the Northwestern block, the Middle Magdalena block, the Central block, the Eastern block, the Western block, and the Southern block — which are each further subdivided into a number of Fronts and named Mobile Columns. The indictment specifically alleges that Mr. Herrera was a member of the 27th Front in the FARC’s Southern block and committed various crimes against the United States as a member of FARC.
For example, according to the indictment, in 2004 the 27th Front allegedly held three Americans for nearly two years. The indictment also alleges that Mr. Herrera was one of the FARC “jailers” who used “choke harnesses, chains, padlocks, and wires to bind the necks and wrists” of American hostages. In addition to these alleged acts, Mr. Herrera was charged with the following specific offenses: 18 U.S.C. 1203(a) (Conspiracy to Commit Hostage Taking); 18 U.S.C. 1203(a),(2) (Hostage Taking; Aiding and Abetting and Causing an Act to be Done); 18 U.S.C. 924(c),(2) (Using and Carrying a Firearm During a Crime of Violence; Aiding and Abetting and Causing an Act to be Done); 18 U.S.C. 2339A (Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorists); 18 U.S.C. 2339B (Conspiracy to Provide Material Support or Resources to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization).
When an individual located in a foreign country has been indicted by a federal grand jury the United States will attempt to compel the government of that country to turn that individual over into the custody of the United States. This request will usually be pursuant to an extradition treaty between the United States and that foreign country. The extradition request is formally made with the foreign government’s embassy in the United States. Additionally, this formal request is made by the U.S. Department of State, not Justice. The U.S. will likely accompany this formal request with a copy of the indictment, arrest warrant, relevant statutes, a photograph of the accused, and the affidavit of an investigating officer on the case.
When this request is made, the terms of the treaty dictate whether the foreign government will agree to turn over the individual into the custody of the United States. Accordingly, most extradition treaties must satisfy a legal concept known as dual criminality. Dual criminality means that the offenses being charged by the requesting country must also be considered punishable offenses in the other country. This very requirement exists in Article 2(1)(a) of the extradition treaty between the United States and Colombia.
The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.