Mexico City, December 23, 2005 --“The extradition of Gomez García, accused murderer of a police officer in Denver, is proof that criminal suspects cannot escape justice by fleeing across the border and demonstrates the commitment on both sides of the border to bringing fugitives to justice. Thanks to the excellent cooperation of Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper, the Denver Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Mexican Federal Investigation Agency (AFI), and Interpol, Gomez García will face trial for the heinous murder of one policeman and attempted murder of another in Denver earlier this year,” said U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza
Raul Gomez Garcia (also known as Raul Garcia Gomez) was extradited yesterday by Mexico to stand trial in Denver, Colorado, for the murder of Denver Police Officer Donald Young and the attempted murder of Officer John Bishop. On May 8, 2005, Gomez allegedly shot officers Young and Bishop, who were in uniform and working off-duty as security guards.
Through the close cooperation of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials, including the Denver Police, U.S. Marshals Service, the Mexican Federal Investigation Agency (AFI), and Interpol, Gomez Garcia was located in Mexico and, on June 4, 2005, arrested for the purpose of extradition to the United States.
In accordance with extradition procedure, the extradition of Gomez had to be approved by a Mexican federal district court and then by the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE), which, on November 22, 2005, issued its decision granting Gomez’s extradition. Thereafter, Gomez had 15 working days to appeal the SRE’s decision back to the Mexican courts. Gomez did not appeal the decision, and, upon the expiration of the 15-day period, arrangements were made for his surrender to the United States.
At the time that Gomez’s extradition was requested, a 2001 Mexican Supreme Court ruling prohibited the extradition of persons facing life imprisonment without parole, because such sentences were deemed cruel and unusual punishment under the Mexican Constitution. Faced with these circumstances, Denver authorities were able to change the charges of the case to ensure Gomez’s return to face justice for the crimes of which he is accused. If convicted, Gomez faces 48 years in prison for each of the two counts (murder and attempted murder) with which he is charged.
“The Denver authorities’ decision on how to charge Gomez with the crime, in consultation with the family of Officer Young, was no doubt very difficult, but their flexibility contributed significantly to the successful conclusion of the extradition case,” commented Ambassador Garza. “This case certainly serves as an example of the commitment on both sides of the border to bring fugitives to justice as expeditiously as possible. The Embassy also wishes to recognize the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE) for their cooperation in this matter.”
Although not handed down in time to affect Gomez’s extradition case, the Mexican Supreme Court recently reversed its 2001 decision concerning life imprisonment. In future cases, this new decision should remove a significant obstacle to the extradition of fugitives facing life imprisonment in the United States.