Should an American hero be penalized for bringing fugitives to justice? Is it fair that a cop killer gets away with murder while a daughter sits mourning the loss of her father? I don’t think so. In fact, I think that in itself is a crime.
But unfortunately, we can’t go ahead and arrest Mexico. I’m not trying to criticize Mexico ‘just because.’ What I say has nothing to do with racism or bias. I realize that the people that come here to work do so out of a grand necessity that I know much about. But I’m not going to step on eggshells here. Something must be said.
Believe it or not, there is a lot wrong with the Mexico we presently know and love, just as there is a lot wrong here at home in the United States. There’s the issue of the illegal immigrant influx. There’s the Mexican government’s refusal to tackle the situation and aid its people. And then there’s the situation of illegal aliens who come to America, commit crimes and run back to their home country only to be lost in the shuffle.
Mexico is a bustling haven for the ones who got away. So one often wonders why we wouldn’t stoop down and return the favor. Why is it that we seem so buddy-buddy with our southern neighbors that we waste no time in gagging and bagging people who commit crimes in their country? It should be obvious, really. No one wants a criminal walking around freely in his country. So what’s the deal with Mexico?
Maybe it all comes down to how you define crime. Apparently, bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico. Fans of the A&E television series ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ will be familiar with Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman, the bounty hunter who gained national fame after his June 2003 capture of the fugitive rapist Andrew Luster. Luster, the Max Factor heir, had been hiding in Mexico after fleeing during his trial on charges that he raped three women.
On April 29, 2002, Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David March was shot repeatedly at close range and left to die without his gun ever leaving its holster. It was a routine traffic stop. The suspected gunman, Armando Garcia, soon fled to Mexico and disappeared for four years. Just this year Garcia was arrested by a combined effort of Mexican officials and U.S. Marshals.
Along with this case, there are over 800 other extradition cases involving murder, rape and drug charges. These fugitives still await justice after breaking the law here yet they live in freedom in Mexico. This is not fair.
Mexico has rewritten their extradition treaty so that persons facing possible life terms here are banned from extradition to the United States, unless it can be assured that the criminal will only face a certain number of years under a sentence. Judges are not allowed to give such assurance, and thus running away to Mexico usually guarantees long-term freedom.
After Chapman’s capture of Luster in 2003, he was ordered to turn the criminal over to the Mexican government, refused and was arrested. He was detained for several days and then posted bail to return to the United States. Three years later, Chapman had become a celebrity and Luster was rotting away with a 124-year prison term.
Suddenly, Mexico decided that Chapman should be brought to justice. On Sept. 14, 2006, U.S. Marshals arrested Chapman along with his son and partner in Honolulu. He was ordered to wear a special ankle bracelet so his location could be monitored before his extradition to Mexico. Recently, a judge has decided that Chapman can move about freely without the bracelet, but Chapman still faces charges in Mexico.
News of the event enraged many Americans, including myself. What has this country come to when we find ourselves kissing Mexico’s rear end?
Let’s stop the hand-feeding when we are being bitten in return. Chapman has brought a criminal to justice and now, because of a misdemeanor, Mexico wants him to face their own brand of justice. Mexico’s justice system is broken and corrupt. I hear some people say Chapman deserves this for breaking Mexican laws. But if Mexico really cared about justice, Luster would have been put away without Chapman’s aid. Maybe it’s the fact that Luster had the money to pay off the right people. Is it really about the justice or about the pesos?
Ronald DeGott is a first-year English major.