Vancouver real estate developer faces lawsuits, extradition to U.S.

Mark John Chandler claimed “to be one of the biggest real estate developers in Canada” when he reached out to a New York money lender in 2011, according to court filings.

Mark John Chandler

Mark John Chandler

Now, the Vancouver developer faces the prospect of being shipped to the U.S. to face charges in an alleged “fraudulent scheme” involving Los Angeles real estate. The FBI alleges in court documents that Chandler may have used investors’ funds to “support his lifestyle.”

Closer to home, Chandler’s 92-unit latest Metro Vancouver condo development sits empty more than a year past its anticipated move-in date, mired in a complex tangle of legal disputes, including homebuyers alleging breach of trust, private lenders launching foreclosure actions, and a municipality seeking to recover more than three years’ worth of unpaid taxes.

Corporate records show Chandler is the director of the Newmark Group and several other companies named in a series of lawsuits and foreclosure involving the Newmark condo development in the Township of Langley called Murrayville House.

Though the legal disputes involve tens of millions of dollars (two creditors who have already obtained judgments against Chandler’s companies worth more than $12.5 million, according to legal filings), they may not be the most pressing item on Chandler’s plate this week: he’s to appear Friday in B.C. Supreme Court, where the U.S. seeks his extradition in the Los Angeles case dating to 2009, according to documents filed in court.

Chandler is alleged to have pitched a highrise condo development on L.A.’s Hill Street to “victim investors,” making false representations to obtain their money, according to court filings. California investors allegedly “put up property as collateral for Mr. Chandler’s Hill Street project and lost the properties in foreclosure proceedings when Mr. Chandler’s promised repayments did not materialize,” according to court filings.

Chandler, reached by phone this week, did not provide his side of the story.

Last month, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of 34 individuals and B.C. companies each claiming to have bought strata lots last year in the Langley development. The notice of claim alleges each buyer entered into agreements of purchase and sale with numbered companies controlled by Mr. Chandler, paying deposits usually between $150,000 and $250,000 each, money that was to be held in trust. The claim alleges that, in breach of the agreements, Chandler’s numbered company “entered into contracts for purchase and sale for each of the strata lots with third parties.”

Last week, responses were filed on behalf of Chandler’s numbered companies, with one claiming “the true nature of the transactions between the plaintiffs and (the numbered company) was as loans. … Notwithstanding the terms of some of the documents signed between the plaintiffs and (the company), it was never intended that the plaintiffs would actually become owners of the units in question.”

The response also says, as of the date of its filing last Thursday, construction of the Langley project has been completed and the “units are becoming ready for sale,” adding “the Murrayville Project has suffered substantial cost overruns.”

B.C.’s Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate does not discuss current investigations nor confirm whether an investigation exists, but, said office spokesman Mykle Ludvigsen, “I can assure you that every complaint made to our office is investigated.”

“That being said, allegations of the type (described in the civil lawsuit) would be of interest to our office,” said Ludvigsen.

Chandler’s past dealings with B.C. regulators include a 2006 order from B.C.’s then-superintendent of real estate, W. Alan Clark, ordering the developer to stop marketing units in several Vancouver condo projects, after Clark found the information before him raised “a serious concern and a likelihood that Chandler, acting on behalf of the developers, has sold one or more development units in the developers’ developments to more than one purchaser.”

Postmedia reached Chandler by phone Tuesday to explain a story was scheduled about the Murrayville foreclosures, the homebuyers’ lawsuit, and the U.S. extradition hearing. Chandler said he was in B.C., but not sure whether he would attend Friday’s hearing. Soon afterwards, he cut off further questions by passing the phone to his associate, who he said would respond to allegations. The associate, identified as James Cronk, then said he could not answer questions about any legal proceedings, but, before hanging up, said he would phone right back with more information.

Chandler and Cronk did not phone back Tuesday nor answer a call on Wednesday.

The Township of Langley claims it is owed almost $300,000 in outstanding taxes on the Murrayville development, according to information provided by the municipality, with each of the 92 units to be individually put up for sale at a public auction later this month unless the taxes are paid. The delinquent taxes must be paid by certified cheque by Thursday at 4 p.m. or they will go to auction.

The following morning at 10 a.m., Chandler’s extradition hearing is scheduled in downtown Vancouver. Chandler is required by law to appear in person at Friday’s hearing where his defence lawyer is expected to argue against his extradition, said John Gibb-Carsley, a lawyer with the federal Justice Department, who is acting on behalf of the U.S. in the case.

Chandler was indicted in Arizona in 2000 on 13 charges of fraud, theft and forgery. He entered into a plea agreement in 2003 and was deported to Canada and ordered to pay $189,500 in restitution, The Vancouver Sun’s David Baines reported in 2006.

As of this week, no one is living in the Murrayville development, according to the Township of Langley.

US may struggle to extradite SocGen bankers over Libor

France has proved reluctant to surrender citizens in prior rate-rigging cases

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US authorities will need to overcome sizeable hurdles if they are to successfully prosecute two French Société Générale bankers charged over alleged Libor rigging, legal experts have said. Lawyers cast doubt on whether the women — who are among the most senior individuals yet to face indictment in the global probe into manipulation of the financial benchmark — will ever see a US courtroom, arguing France will be reluctant to extradite them.

Danielle Sindzingre and Muriel Bescond were indicted in a federal court in New York this week but neither is in the US and the Department of Justice would not say if it was seeking extradition. “This is ultimately a big stand-off,” said Roger Burlingame, a former US federal prosecutor who now works at Kobre & Kim representing European-based clients under investigation by the US.

“As long as they stay in France, they are not going to be extradited.” Neither of the women responded to requests for comment through LinkedIn, and their lawyers could not be identified. French courts in general have been loath to allow the long arm of US justice to reach its citizens.

And earlier decisions by the French authorities and courts over the Libor-rigging scandal suggest they would look skeptically at US claims if the pair were to contest extradition. This is ultimately a big stand-off. As long as they stay in France, they are not going to be extradited ROGER BURLINGAME, A FORMER US FEDERAL PROSECUTOR A Paris appeals court refused earlier this year to extradite Stephane Esper, a former SocGen trader who was charged with benchmark-rigging offences by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

The court reasoned Mr Esper could not be extradited to the UK because benchmark-rigging was not an offence at the time in France. While some banks cleared out swaths of traders and submitters in the wake of the scandal, SocGen still employs Ms Sindzingre and Ms Bescond.

The bank has not been fined or charged by US authorities in connection with Libor rigging. Ms Sindzingre was appointed the global co-head of fixed income, credit and currencies in 2015. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is based in London, and Ms Bescond’s profile says she is global head of short-term derivatives, based in Paris.

Robert Anello, partner at Grand Iason & Anello, said Ms Sindzingre’s London base could make a difference. “Particularly since she isn’t a UK citizen, the chances of her getting extradited [to the US] are greater than the French extraditing one of their own,” he said. “The French laws will make it more difficult — though not necessarily impossible.” Bruce Zagaris, a partner at Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, said that if Ms Sindzingre was in the UK, she would be “well advised” to return to France.

He said the US authorities may well not request extradition in the first place if they did not think it would be granted. He added, however, that they may issue via Interpol a “red notice” for the individuals, which could restrict their ability to travel. Mr Burlingame said: “The safe thing for them to assume is that there’ll be an arrest warrant waiting for them as soon as they leave France.”

So far, SocGen has been fined only by the European Commission for benchmark-rigging. Brussels landed the bank with a €445.9m penalty in 2013. In total, global banks have paid fines totalling $9bn to authorities around the world over the Libor scandal.

IRA veteran Sean Garland escapes extradition to US.

Former Workers' party president wanted over alleged links to 'super dollars' North Korean counterfeiting plot

Sean Garland was arrested in Dublin in 2009 and had been fighting extradition from the Republic of Ireland.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Sean Garland was arrested in Dublin in 2009 and had been fighting extradition from the Republic of Ireland. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Ireland's high court has rejected a request to extradite a senior IRA veteran to the US over alleged links to a North Korean counterfeiting plot.

Sean Garland, a former Workers' party president, has been fighting extradition from the Republic of Ireland since his arrest in Dublin in 2009.

US authorities wanted to try the 76-year-old for his alleged role in the worldwide conspiracy involving so-called "super dollars" that the FBI among other security agencies alleged was linked to the regime in North Korea.

In a brief hearing on Wednesday in the Dublin court, Justice John Edwards said the court was not disposed to grant the application and will give its reasons on 13 January. A Workers' party spokesman said Garland was extremely relieved and delighted with today's ruling. The party thanked those who had backed the campaign to stop Garland's extradition.

Last week, English artist and rock musician Nick Reynolds visited Dublin to hand over his sculpted cast of Garland's head.

Reynolds, who has made artworks out of casts of train robber Ronnie Biggs and 19th-century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, made a sculpture out of a cast of Garland's head.

The musician, whose band Alabama 3 played a concert to raise funds for the campaign to stop Garland's extradition, presented Garland with the sculpture when the band launched their album in Dublin.

O'Dwyer lawyers used novel legal arrangement to resolve extradition case

Owen Bowcott examines the legal implications of the O'Dwyer case for the future of extradition arrangements between UK and US

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Lawyers for Richard O'Dwyer used a novel legal arrangement to avoid the undergraduate being forcibly extradited to America where he is wanted on breaching film copyrights.

His barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the high court that the 24-year-old had made a 'Deferred Prosecution Agreement' (DPA) – a mechanism designed to negotiate settlements in economic crimes which the UK is in the process of adopting.

The surprise deal reached between the US prosecuting authorities and O'Dwyer's legal team could potentially be a trailblazing example that may smooth the way to resolving other protracted extradition cases involving financial claims.

In O'Dwyer's case, agreement seems to have allowed plea-bargaining to take place before the painful process of removal from the UK. Since many extradited Britons subsequently negotiate a reduced sentence once they come before a US court, it offers the opportunity to short-circuit years of litigation.

Campaigners against extradition have accused the agreement between the US and UK as being tilted in favour of the States. The home secretary's decision last month to block the removal to America of the alleged computer hacker Gary MacKinnon may have encouraged the Washington authorities to reach an advance deal with O'Dwyer rather than risk a further high profile defeat.

DPAs are increasingly being used in the US. Last month the Ministry of Justice announced that they would be introduced into the UK mainly for use in complex fraud cases.

According to the MoJ, a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is "an agreement between a prosecutor and an organisation where, in return for complying with a range of stringent conditions, the prosecutor would defer a criminal prosecution.

"The process will be scrutinised by an independent judge and the threat of prosecution will remain hanging over an organisation should it fail to comply fully with the agreement."

Announcing last month that DPAs would be available in the UK, the justice minister, Damian Green, said: "Deferred Prosecution Agreements will give prosecutors an effective new tool to tackle what has become an increasingly complex issue. It will ensure that more unacceptable corporate behaviour is dealt with including through substantial penalties, proper reparation to victims, and measures to prevent future wrongdoing."

Referring to the O'Dwyer deal, the Labour MP Keith Vaz, chair iof the Commons Home Affairs select committee, said: "I welcome the agreement which means Richard O'Dwyer will not be extradited to the US.

"However, Richard should not have had to go directly to the US to negotiate. Ministers should use their discretion to prevent extradition in cases which are patently unjust.

"The US extradition treaty was not negotiated on a level playing field and remains unbalanced. As the home affairs committee recommended in March, we need to amend the treaty and introduce an evidence test."

Lauri Love wouldn’t get justice in the US. UK courts must try his hacking case

The 31-year-old Briton accused of hacking into US army and FBI sites faces extradition to the US – but changes in UK law should protect him

Lauri Love arrives for his extradition hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court in London, September 2016.  Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Lauri Love arrives for his extradition hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court in London, September 2016. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

While Donald Trump and the United States intelligence services argue over who hacked whom, it has been almost forgotten that, for a young British citizen, hacking accusations pack a much heavier punch than political point-scoring. Lauri Love, who has Asperger syndrome, is facing extradition to the US and is now awaiting a date for the appeal hearing that will determine the course of the rest of his life.

Amber Rudd orders Lauri Love extradition to US on hacking charges

Love, aged 31, from Suffolk, is accused of hacking into the sites of the US army, Department of Defense, FBI, Nasa, Federal Reserve and others between 2012 and 2013. The US government is seeking his removal to stand trial there. Technically, Love could face 99 years, although the indications are that the authorities would seek a plea bargain and a shorter sentence.

It is just over four years since Theresa May, then home secretary, announced to widespread applause that the US could not extradite Gary McKinnon, who also had Asperger syndrome and who had been accused of hacking into Nasa and Pentagon sites. The Daily Mail – which, like the Guardian, had long argued against this extradition – applauded her stance. And last year, when May ran for prime minister, the paper threw its weight behind her. Janis Sharp, McKinnon’s mother, has also spoken out for Love.

But in the meantime, under the 2013 Crime and Courts Act, parliament has handed the home secretary’s decision-making role on extradition back to the courts. For this reason, the current incumbent, Amber Rudd, has declined to intervene. But the law change means that British courts can now try alleged crimes that, like hacking, have been committed in Britain but have ramifications abroad – and punish them according to our laws, not the laws of another justice system.

The judge who authorised Love’s extradition last year said she accepted that “Mr Love suffers from both physical and mental health issues, but I have found the medical facilities in the United States prison estate … are such that I can be satisfied his needs will be comprehensively met.” Yet the American justice system is one of the most punitive in the world and Love would be regarded within the prison system as someone who had damaged the US: in the increasingly toxic and xenophobic post-Trump climate, he would be an inevitable target.

Karen Todner, Love’s solicitor, who successfully defended McKinnon, has pointed out that May changed the law so that such cases could be tried in Britain. Todner says that if the law “was meant to provide protection to someone such as Gary McKinnon and yet serves no purpose to someone as vulnerable as Mr Love, it has become an empty protection”.

Love’s case has the support of more than 100 MPs, led by the Conservative David Burrowes, McKinnon’s MP, and Labour’s Barry Sheerman. They wrote to Barack Obama last year arguing that the request for extradition should be dropped. Rudd should add her voice, and address it to the incoming president.

Lauri Love is not seeking to avoid justice, but such justice is not currently available in the US. The British courts are perfectly capable of trying a case that involves no acts of violence or extremism. They should now assert their right to do so.

Alleged Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov waives extradition to go straight to U.S. to face prosecution

The 22-year-old Ancaster, Ont., man agreed to forgo extradition in court on Friday, which also meant he was waiving any protections.

Karim Baratov was arrested at his Ancaster home on March 14 after U.S. authorities charged him with aggravated identity theft and conspiring to commit fraud, in connection with a hacking scheme allegedly organized by Russian intelligence agents.   (INSTAGRAM)  

Karim Baratov was arrested at his Ancaster home on March 14 after U.S. authorities charged him with aggravated identity theft and conspiring to commit fraud, in connection with a hacking scheme allegedly organized by Russian intelligence agents.  (INSTAGRAM)  

HAMILTON—Accused Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov is waiving his Canadian rights, forgoing extradition, to go straight to the United States to face prosecution.

During a brief court appearance in Hamilton Friday morning the 22-year-old Ancaster, Ont., man agreed to the waiver, which Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman cautioned meant he’s also waiving any protections.

Baratov agreed, signing three copies of the waiver in front of the judge, before being led away. “Good luck Mr. Baratov,” Goodman said.

“Thank you,” Baratov replied, ending what is his last court appearance in Canada. His lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo said outside court that waiving extradition is “the quickest route to the U.S. so we can continue our discussions there.”

He couldn’t detail what is happening with negotiations in the U.S., which have been ongoing since March, but described them as “fruitful.” “I’m pretty confident the consent route was the wrong way to go and the waiver was the right way to go,” he said.

Had Baratov, a Canadian citizen born in Kazakhstan, consented to extradition, that process would have taken longer but would have limited the U.S. to the initial indictment. By waiving his rights, he will head straight to the U.S., but is open to the risk of facing additional charges.

Karim Baratov's lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo said outside court that waiving extradition is “the quickest route to the U.S. so we can continue our discussions there.”   (NATHAN DENETTE)  

Karim Baratov's lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo said outside court that waiving extradition is “the quickest route to the U.S. so we can continue our discussions there.”  (NATHAN DENETTE)  

A court order in the U.S. is already in place and a U.S. marshal is expected to come transport Baratov, to the State of California (likely San Francisco), as soon as possible, DiCarlo said.

Baratov is “excited” for the change of scenery and to see progression on the case, he said. DiCarlo said he was forbidden from revealing any details of U.S. negotiations, but did say they’ve “narrowed down timelines.”

There have been “suggestions (it) could take months and years, but that’s not going to happen,” he said, adding that everyone is working to resolve the matter faster.

Baratov was arrested at his Ancaster home on March 14 after U.S. authorities charged him with aggravated identity theft and conspiring to commit fraud, in connection with a hacking scheme allegedly organized by Russian intelligence agents.

He was denied bail in Canada because he is considered a flight risk. Unable to get Baratov out of jail, DiCarlo turned his focus to the U.S. negotiations. DiCarlo maintains Baratov is “a small fish” in the whole scheme, said to have involved breaching about 500 million Yahoo email accounts used for political or financial gain.

By waiving extradition, Baratov is not admitting any guilt, he said.

Karim Baratov, alleged Yahoo hacker, to be handed over to U.S. marshals

 

Baratov waived his right to an extradition hearing Friday in Hamilton court

Karim Baratov is pictured in a framed photo at his parents' home.  (Adam Carter/CBC)

Karim Baratov is pictured in a framed photo at his parents' home. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Karim Baratov, the 22-year-old charged in connection with an American probe into a Yahoo hacking operation, has waived an extradition hearing and will soon head to the U.S. in the custody of U.S. marshals.

His lawyer, Amadeo DiCarlo, said waiving the hearing was the "quickest route into the U.S." and that today's court appearance would be Baratov's last in Canada. "We're anxious to get him down there," he said prior to the appearance in Hamilton court Friday.

"The court order is already in place to have the marshals come up to pick up Karim." DiCarlo said that could happen as early as Friday, but likely within two weeks.

"Today is only to address the judge and indicate our decision, and I think that will be the last of the process here in Canada." The decision to waive the extradition hearing speeds up his opportunity to address the charges.

In court, Baratov smiled as he talked quietly with DiCarlo. He signed a waiver regarding his extradition rights in the judge's presence. With that, Justice Andrew Goodman ordered Baratov transferred to U.S. custody.

"Good luck, Mr. Baratov," he said. "Thank you," Baratov said. U.S. authorities allege Baratov, from suburban Ancaster, Ont., was a "hacker for hire" with Russian ties. But Canada has to surrender Baratov to the U.S. for him to face charges there.

'Let's get some lawyers and let's move on with this'

Baratov just wants to go deal with the charges in the U.S. as quickly as possible, DiCarlo said.

"Go there, finish it there, let's get some lawyers and let's move on with this," DiCarlo told CBC News last Friday. "Keeping him here, I think, is just going to waste more time."

Baratov had two choices once he decided to bypass an extradition hearing to expedite having the charges dealt with in the U.S: waiving the process entirely or consenting to the extradition.

Goodman reminded Baratov in court Friday that waiving the extradition — essentially turning himself over to American authorities — could open him to any additional charges the U.S. decides to bring.

Consenting to the extradition would have given Canada's justice minister up to 90 days to sign off on transferring Baratov to the U.S., but would have ensured he'd face only the charges of the indictment already released in March.

"But we've had some fruitful discussions with the U.S.; I'm pretty confident the 'consent' route was the wrong way to go," DiCarlo said after the proceeding. "The waiver was the right way to go." The indictment was filed in a San Francisco federal court, but DiCarlo said it's too early to say where in California Baratov will stand trial.

Held without bail since March 14

Baratov was arrested March 14 in Hamilton under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.

Baratov has been held without bail since his arrest after an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled in April that he was too much of a flight risk to be released prior to an extradition hearing.

Yahoo said last September that information from at least 500 million user accounts had been stolen in a cyberattack two years earlier. Baratov is accused of hacking 80 Yahoo accounts, and if convicted, faces 20 years in a U.S. prison.

The U.S. also charged two Russian intelligence officers and a fourth man. Baratov's lawyers have said their client had no idea who he was dealing with, or exactly what he was doing.

The FBI documents submitted to secure his arrest in Canada paint a false picture, DiCarlo said.

After extradition of El Chapo, US prosecutors seek a rival

By DAVE KOLPACK  The Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — With notorious drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman now behind bars in New York after he was extradited from Mexico last month, federal prosecutors in North Dakota have their sights set on bringing one of his organization’s onetime rivals to the United States to face charges.

In court documents unsealed Tuesday, authorities say Juan Francisco Sillas-Rocha was a top lieutenant for the Arellano Felix cartel, which smuggled cocaine, marijuana and other drugs into the United States and competed against the Sinaloa cartel led by Guzman, once considered the most wanted man in the world. Authorities have described Sillas-Rocha as a prolific hit man responsible for killing 20 to 30 people a month during the cartel’s heyday in Tijuana.

Sillas-Rocha was arrested six years ago in Mexico, but his federal case in the U.S. had remained sealed from public view until this week. Tim Heaphy, former U.S. attorney from Virginia, said it’s common to seal such cases to preserve an investigation and protect witnesses. Those fears tend to evaporate when a defendant is in custody for a long time.

U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers, the lead prosecutor, declined to comment on the case. Court documents in Mexico listed no attorney of record for Sillas-Rocha.Sillas-Rocha, known as “Ruedas,” or “Wheels,” is charged with three counts, including conspiracy to commit murder for a continuing criminal enterprise.

He has been fighting extradition to North Dakota, where federal officials a decade ago began gathering incriminating evidence on the Arellano Felix cartel after one of its members killed a Minnesota man over a drug debt. Sillas-Rocha was arrested in Mexico in November 2011 and paraded in front of reporters by police in riot gear and masks. He remains in jail there.

The case wound up in North Dakota after Jorge “Sneaky” Arandas, a member of the Arellano Felix gang, set up shop in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. Investigators say Arandas ordered the killing of Lee Avila, of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, in June 2005 for failing to pay for five pounds of methamphetamine that Arandas originally received from Sillas-Rocha. Arandas told police he feared that he would be killed for not paying Sillas-Rocha, so he had Avila murdered to show strength.

The indictment filed against Sillas-Rocha in March 2011 said that in addition to drug trafficking, Sillas-Rocha was involved in the supervision of crews that “participated in murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, public corruption of government officials, money laundering and other illegal conduct” meant to make money for the cartel.

The document accuses Sillas-Rocha of attempting to arrange the killings of two California residents. He allegedly offered a San Diego street gang $25,000 to kill them, paying $4,000 in advance. When the gang couldn’t find his targets, Sillas-Rocha upped his offer to $50,000 if the killings could be done quickly. He later ordered another man to kill an entire family inside their home, investigators said.

Mexican authorities say Sillas-Rocha participated in the 2010 kidnapping of three women in the family of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who was at the top of the Sinaloa cartel at the time alongside Guzman. Sillas-Rocha allegedly was retaliating for the disappearance of his sister that year.

Heaphy said he believes Mexican officials wanted the extradition of Guzman just before Trump took office to be “an Obama victory, not a Trump victory.” He said the extradition process will likely become more difficult under Trump, who has riled Mexicans with his pledge to build a border wall and deport people living in the U.S. illegally.

Sillas-Rocha was arrested six years ago in Mexico, but his federal case in the U.S. had remained sealed from public view until this week. Tim Heaphy, former U.S. attorney from Virginia, said it’s common to seal such cases to preserve an investigation and protect witnesses. Those fears tend to evaporate when a defendant is in custody for a long time.

U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers, the lead prosecutor, declined to comment on the case. Court documents in Mexico listed no attorney of record for Sillas-Rocha.

Sillas-Rocha, known as “Ruedas,” or “Wheels,” is charged with three counts, including conspiracy to commit murder for a continuing criminal enterprise. He has been fighting extradition to North Dakota, where federal officials a decade ago began gathering incriminating evidence on the Arellano Felix cartel after one of its members killed a Minnesota man over a drug debt. Sillas-Rocha was arrested in Mexico in November 2011 and paraded in front of reporters by police in riot gear and masks. He remains in jail there.

The case wound up in North Dakota after Jorge “Sneaky” Arandas, a member of the Arellano Felix gang, set up shop in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. Investigators say Arandas ordered the killing of Lee Avila, of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, in June 2005 for failing to pay for five pounds of methamphetamine that Arandas originally received from Sillas-Rocha. Arandas told police he feared that he would be killed for not paying Sillas-Rocha, so he had Avila murdered to show strength.

The indictment filed against Sillas-Rocha in March 2011 said that in addition to drug trafficking, Sillas-Rocha was involved in the supervision of crews that “participated in murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, public corruption of government officials, money laundering and other illegal conduct” meant to make money for the cartel.

The document accuses Sillas-Rocha of attempting to arrange the killings of two California residents. He allegedly offered a San Diego street gang $25,000 to kill them, paying $4,000 in advance. When the gang couldn’t find his targets, Sillas-Rocha upped his offer to $50,000 if the killings could be done quickly. He later ordered another man to kill an entire family inside their home, investigators said.

Mexican authorities say Sillas-Rocha participated in the 2010 kidnapping of three women in the family of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who was at the top of the Sinaloa cartel at the time alongside Guzman. Sillas-Rocha allegedly was retaliating for the disappearance of his sister that year.

Heaphy said he believes Mexican officials wanted the extradition of Guzman just before Trump took office to be “an Obama victory, not a Trump victory.” He said the extradition process will likely become more difficult under Trump, who has riled Mexicans with his pledge to build a border wall and deport people living in the U.S. illegally.

“I would worry about the potentially acrimonious relationship between our new executive and the Mexican government,” Heaphy said. “Extradition is one of the few chips that they have to use in this game of international relations.”

A major player in the struggle for control of the Sinaloa cartel just surrendered in the US

Damaso Lopez Serrano, the son of one of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's main henchmen and a competitor for control of the Sinaloa cartel, crossed the border and turned himself into US authorities on Wednesday.

Lopez Serrano reportedly crossed from Mexicali in Mexico's Baja California state to Calexico in California, where he surrendered to the Customs and Border Patrol on Wednesday morning and was turned over to agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday afternoon.

Damaso Lopez Serrano, in an undated photo

Damaso Lopez Serrano, in an undated photo

"What we know is that he handed himself over yesterday (Wednesday). The case is now with authorities over there," a Mexican security official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told Reuters.

Lopez Serrano is the son of Damaso Lopez Nuñez, aka "El Licenciado," a nickname typically given to holders of law degrees in Mexico. Lopez Nuñez, a former security official who also held several jobs in the Sinaloa state government, was a close deputy of Guzman, reportedly helping the cartel chief escape from a prison where he worked in 2001.

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as he is extradited to New York, January 19, 2017 .Mexico's Attorney General's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as he is extradited to New York, January 19, 2017.Mexico's Attorney General's Office/Handout via REUTERS

His role in the escape burnished Lopez Nuñez's status in the cartel, elevating him to the upper echelons of the organization, according to Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the DEA. Lopez Nuñez's role in the government also underscored what many saw as the state's complicity in the Sinaloa cartel's rise to power.

In the wake of Guzman's arrest in January 2016, the Lopezes became one faction in a fight to assume control of the Sinaloa cartel — a fight that has intensified since Guzman's extradition in January this year.

They reportedly joined forces with the Jalisco New Generation cartel, vying with a faction led by Guzman's sons, called the Chapitos, and with another led by members of the Beltran Leyva Organization, a one-time ally of the Sinaloa cartel. Guzman's brother, Aureliano "El Guano" Guzman, appears to be in the mix as well.

Accused drug kingpin Damaso Lopez, nicknamed “The Graduate”, is escorted by police in Mexico City on May 2, 2017 .Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Accused drug kingpin Damaso Lopez, nicknamed “The Graduate”, is escorted by police in Mexico City on May 2, 2017.Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, Guzman's partner and a cofounder of the Sinaloa cartel, is still involved in the cartel and is reportedly working with Guzman's sons, though reports also indicate he is in poor health and not directly involved in cartel operations.

The strategy of the Lopezes — the younger one nicknamed "El Mini Lic" — included cyber warfare, according to Televisa, using bots and contacting hackers. The latter move proved to be the elder Lopez's undoing, as the hacker contacted authorities and eventually helped them arrest him in Mexico City at the beginning of May.

Over the first half of this year, Sinaloa state saw 879 homicides compared to 524 over the same period last year, according to government data. (Though that data may undercount the number of killings.) The violence in the state seems to have intensified in the weeks since Lopez Nuñez's arrest. During the first weekend of July, there were at least 30 killings — victims' relatives allege that one incident involved the extrajudicial killing of 17 suspected criminals.

Lopez Serrano got an early start in the Sinaloa cartel, reportedly leading Los Antrax, an armed faction of the cartel made up of young members. Much like Chapo's sons, he appears to have documented his wealth and exploits on social media. Though, like the Guzmans, its not clear if the accounts attributed to him are actually his.

Lopez Serrano also has an apprehension order against him issued by the District Court for Southern California in October 2016, and it appears that recent developments on the ground in Mexico may have prompted him to surrender.

"The reason for surrender is he was being hunted by the Sinaloa cartel and 'El Chapo's sons [because of] his father's attempt to take over the cartel," Vigil told Business Insider. In addition to Lopez Nuñez's partnership with the Jalisco New Generation cartel, the elder Lopez was also accused of orchestrating an ambush on Zambada and Guzman's sons in February that killed several of their body guards.

Media in Sinaloa state, where Zambada, the Guzmans, the Lopezes are all from, have reportedthat Zambada may have been after Lopez Serrano and threatened him. Regarded as a "spoiled narco brat who never got his hands dirty," Vigil said, Lopez Serrano was likely unable to protect himself by forging a partnership with the CJNG or by marshaling the armed force established by his father, prompting him to surrender.

A Mexican soldier at the site where two people were shot dead by unidentified attackers in Culiacan, Mexico, February 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Rashide Frias)

A Mexican soldier at the site where two people were shot dead by unidentified attackers in Culiacan, Mexico, February 7, 2017.(AP Photo/Rashide Frias)

Some reports indicate Lopez Serrano spent several days in a rural area near Mexicali before crossing the border to surrender. According to Televisa, Mexican authorities believe he did so in order to negotiate or to act as a protected witness. Vice News, citing sources with the Mexican defense secretariat's second military region, reported that Lopez Serrano requested protection from the US government.

US officials are likely to look to Lopez Serrano for information on his father's associates and the dealings of his cartel, Vigil said. He may also be called to take part in the trial of Guzman, which is slated to start in April 2018 in the Eastern District of New York.

The balance of power within the cartel remains unclear — though, according to El País, Lopez Serrano's surrender appears to clear the way for Zambada, despite his purported frailty, to assume full control of the cartel he helped found and in which he has long been a partner.

"The leaders — under whatever circumstances — have always been Guzman Loera and Zambada Garcia," local crime analyst Alejandro Sicairos told El País. "And while one of the two lives, he will continue operating with the same force."

A Mexican marine looks at the body of a gunman next to a vehicle after a gun fight in Culiacan, Mexico, February 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Rashide Frias)

A Mexican marine looks at the body of a gunman next to a vehicle after a gun fight in Culiacan, Mexico, February 7, 2017.(AP Photo/Rashide Frias)

Even if that is the case, the Sinaloa cartel will still be under pressure not only from the government, but from its new chief rival, the ascendant Jalisco New Generation cartel.The CJNG is contesting Sinaloa's control of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, both valuable smuggling territories on the US border.

The group is also adding to the bloodshed in areas where Sinaloa has long been dominant, including Guerrero and Sinaloa states. In the latter, security officials have admitted that police are underequipped and ill-prepared to deal with the rising narco violence.

Lopez Nuñez remains in custody in Mexico, held in the same jail Guzman occupied before he was extradited. Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong has said Mexico is not considering extraditing him because he could be a valuable source of information regarding the Sinaloa cartel.

Lopez Nuñez himself appears disposed to extradition however, reportedly saying he would prefer making a deal with US authorities to potentially being killed in a Mexican jail.

Paedophile spared extradition to US on human rights grounds

One of America’s most wanted paedophiles has been spared extradition from Britain by the High Court on human rights grounds.

Shawn Sullivan is now the 10th person in recent years to see their extradition to the US blocked by either the courts or Home Secretary in this country  Photo: LONDON MEDIA

Shawn Sullivan is now the 10th person in recent years to see their extradition to the US blocked by either the courts or Home Secretary in this country Photo: LONDON MEDIA

Shawn Sullivan faced spending the rest of his life behind bars under a controversial sex offenders’ programme in the US, but two senior judges said this would amount to a “flagrant denial” of his rights.

As a result the 43 year-old – who married a Ministry of Justice official while in jail on remand – will not be put on trial for abusing three young girls almost 20 years ago, and can live freely in London.

Sullivan, who has a previous conviction for assaulting two girls in Ireland and was on an Interpol most-wanted list, is now the 10th person in recent years to see their extradition to the US blocked by either the courts or Home Secretary in this country.

Despite this, campaigners insist the treaty is “lop-sided” in favour of America, and attempts are still being made to block the extradition of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer, accused of running a website that linked to pirated films.

A spokesman for the US Embassy said: “We strongly disagree with the decision of the court that he should not be extradited to face trial in the U.S.

“Civil commitment is not a penal or criminal sanction; it is rather a means by which the State can protect the community from dangerous behaviour that the committed individual is unable to control.”

Sullivan, originally from Fort Benning, Georgia, was accused of raping a 14 year-old girl and sexually molesting two 11 year-olds in Minnesota between 1993 and 1994.

He fled the US as charges were filed against him and moved to Ireland, where in 1997 he was given a suspended sentence for sexually assaulting two 12 year-old girls.

Sullivan came to London on an Irish passport, using the Gaelic spelling of his name, and was arrested in Barnes, south-west London, in June 2010, where he was living with MoJ policy manager Sarah Smith. The couple married in Wandsworth Prison when he was held on remand, before he was released on bail with an electronic tag.

Initially a judge agreed to his extradition and the Home Office dismissed his appeal.

But Sullivan took his case to the High Court earlier this year, with his lawyers claiming that if he were convicted in the US, he faced being put under a “civil commitment” order at the end of his jail term that effectively meant he would be deemed “sexually dangerous” and never released.

The court was told that no one had ever been released from the treatment programme in Minnesota since it was set up in 1988.

Initially the US authorities suggested Sullivan would not be put under civil commitment but later said it was too early to tell.

In a judgment published last week, the High Court judges said there was a real risk he would be put on the programme, and that it would breach his right not to suffer loss of liberty without due process as protected by the European Court of Human Rights.

"It is clear to me that were an order of civil commitment to be made, it would be a flagrant denial of this appellant's rights under Art. 5.1," Lord Justice Moses said.

He and Mr Justice Eady gave the US government a final chance to offer assurances as to Sullivan’s treatment but it declined to do so.

In a note released on Thursday, Lord Justice Moses announced that “the United States will not provide an assurance” and so the appeal under the 2003 Extradition Act was allowed.

“The appellant will be discharged from the proceedings,” the judge said.

Morocco: Hezbollah’s funder waiting for extradition to US

Kassem Tajeddine, one of Lebanon’s Hezbollah top funders, arrested in Casablanca on Monday, is waiting for decision by a Casablanca criminal court on his extradition to the US.

The businessman is expected to appear in the dock in the criminal court in the Moroccan economic capital. He could face extradition according to article 729 of the Moroccan penal code.

The court, after conferring with the ministry of justice, will have five days to rule whether the rich man should be handed over to US authorities.

Kassem Tajeddine was arrested at Casablanca international airport on Monday while on transit to Beirut, Lebanon. He was on his way from a Southern Sahara African country where he has businesses. The man was placed in 2009 and 2010 on the US blacklist of terrorism sponsors. The CIA accuses him of funding Hezbollah; a Shia organization tagged terrorist by US authorities.

Tajeddine is known as one of the richest in Lebanon. He possesses important businesses in real estate, food industry in his country and in many African countries. The man reportedly bought vast lands at Chouf and Békaa that he turned into real estate where several figures of the Shia organization live. Tajeddine’s family and pro-Hezbollah organizations say the CIA coaxed Moroccan authorities to arrest him.