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United States v. Vasquez-Velasco

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
15 F.3d 833 (1994)


Facts

Javier Vasquez-Velasco (defendant) was allegedly a member of the Guadalajara Narcotics Cartel, a drug trafficking group in Guadalajara, Mexico. The cartel was engaged in drug trafficking in the United States in the early 1980s. In 1984 and 1985, members of the American Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) engaged in law enforcement activities resulting in losses of billions of dollars to the cartel. In retaliation for these losses, Vasquez-Velasco and his co-defendants allegedly engaged in violent crimes in aid of a racketeering enterprise in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959. Vasquez-Velasco was charged with the 1985 kidnapping and murders of Enrique Camarena, an American agent with the DEA, and Alfredo Zavala, a DEA informant. At trial, however, it came out that Vasquez-Velasco had actually been involved with the murders of two other men in a different incident. On January 30, 1985 in Guadalajara, Mexico, Vasquez-Velasco gathered with other members of the drug cartel at the La Langosta restaurant. Two men—John Walker, an American author, and Alberto Radelat, an American photographer—entered the restaurant. The drug cartel mistook them for DEA agents, and they were seized and beaten by members of the drug cartel. They were tortured until one confessed they were police, and were then dragged outside and killed in a field. Vasquez-Velasco was convicted of these crimes in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959, and appealed. On appeal, he argued that the district court erred in ruling that § 1959 applies extraterritorially and in finding that it had jurisdiction over the matter.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

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