The U.S. government appears to be showing considerably more urgency toward four American citizens kidnapped in Mexico than it has for the femicide investigation of Shanquella Robinson, also an American citizen who was killed in Mexico more than four months ago.
Unverified graphic video footage and photos posted to social media suggest at least one of the American citizens visiting the border city of Matamoros has been killed.
The FBI is actively seeking any information about the kidnappings.
Days before it was reported that the unidentified American citizens were taken from a van with North Carolina license plates, civil rights leaders joined Robinson’s family to demand the type of apparently elusive “diplomatic intervention” from the U.S. government that it seems to be planning to apply in the kidnapping case.”
“All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the FBI said Friday in an instant response.
Conversely, it took weeks for the FBI to acknowledge the death of Robinson — also from North Carolina — while the 25-year-old Charlotte native and her friends were on vacation in San José del Cabo in late October.
It was in that context that civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Sue-Ann Robinson held a press conference — also on Friday — to pressure the U.S. government to extradite a suspect in Shanquella’s death to Mexico to answer for the killing. Mexican authorities issued an arrest warrant back in November that has never been served.
Crump said that suspect “is currently free in the United States of America” and said the U.S. government had two options to proceed: 1) the suspect should be extradited to Mexico to face the charges and the crimes that have been alleged; or 2) take jurisdiction, as he said Mexico has offered so the U.S. can bring a case against the suspect.
“We can’t have different justice systems depending on the ethnicity of the victims,” Crump said Friday, before the kidnappings were reported.
Sue-Ann Robinson said she traveled to Mexico on a fact-finding mission and learned the Mexican government is standing by to assist the U.S. government to serve justice for the death of Shanquella. She said when she went to the U.S. consulate in Mexico, she didn’t get the same kind of “warm greeting” that Mexican officials gave her while assuring the case remained “a top priority.”
She said all the U.S. consulate in Mexico told her was to talk with Shanquella’s friends for more information.
“The level of disrespect to Shanquella Robinson’s dignity, even in death, is unreal,” Sue-Ann Robinson said.
“The ball is clearly in the United States’ court” she added while challenging President Joe Biden and the State Department to take immediate action.
“It’s on y’all,” Sue-Ann Robinson continued before adding, “and we’re waiting right here until justice is served for this family.”
Mallory, co-founder of the social justice organization Until Freedom, suggested that a cumulative devaluing of Black women has prompted an ambivalent response by both the U.S. government and the media to Shanquella’s death.
“We want the same attention that white women have received,” Mallory continued by citing “white women missing treatment.” She said, “we want to see that put in action for Shanquella Robinson.”
Shanquellla was with several “friends” when she died in her villa at the upscale Fundadores Beach Club in Cabo, Mexico. Her death was reported on Oct. 29. Initially, her travel mates told her mother Sallamondra Robinson that she had died of alcohol poisoning, but a death certificate later revealed that she passed away from a “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation,” an instability of neck vertebrae. Around the same time, a video of Shanquella being viciously beaten by one of her “friends” also surfaced. At least two people filmed the violence and one male voice can be heard urging “Quella” to “fight back.”
Excerpts from a police report obtained by The Charlotte Observer claim a doctor from a local hospital was with Shanquella and other house members for almost three hours before she was pronounced dead.
Authorities have since ruled Shanquella’s death as femicide.
Authorities from the state attorney general’s office of Baja California Sur in Mexico issued an arrest warrant for an unnamed woman who was “likely responsible” for the hair care entrepreneur’s death. Social media users closely linked to Shanquella’s “friend” group have alleged that the suspect seen in her startling attack video is a woman named Daejhanae Jackson, but her name is not mentioned in the arrest warrant.
“This case is fully clarified, we even have a court order, there is an arrest warrant issued for the crime of femicide to the detriment of the victim and against an alleged perpetrator, a friend of her who is the direct aggressor,” Mexican prosecutor Daniel de la Rosa Anaya reportedly said. “Actually it wasn’t a quarrel, but instead a direct aggression. We are carrying out all the pertinent procedures such as the Interpol alert and the request for extradition to the United States of America. It’s about two Americans, the victim, and the culprit.”
The U.S. and Mexico’s extradition treaty provides for the return of those who have committed crimes and fled across the United States/Mexico border. Typically, in order for extradition to be carried out, the suspect must be located and arrested first. Mexican officials have not confirmed any arrests as of yet.
What can actually happen legally?
Joey Jackson, an attorney and legal analyst for CNN, said there are two ways the arrest warrant can play out. One option is to have the “friend” extradited as requested by Mexico. “You could see Mexico engage in the prosecution,” Jackson told CNN.
The other choice is for the U.S. government to become involved and try the case in the U.S.
“In the event you go overseas and an American citizen is ultimately killed by another American citizen, there’s a statute that could provide for the prosecution to take place in this country,” Jackson added.
Of course, Jackson said that more than three months ago, so it remains unclear whether the arrest warrant would be honored in the U.S.
There is a legal precedent for extradition
An international treaty with provisions for extraditions to and from Mexico has been in place for 45 years. The Extradition Treaty Between the United States of America and the United Mexican States dates back to 1978 and was ratified in 1998 by President Bill Clinton, who said it was meant to “enhance cooperation between the law enforcement communities of both countries.”
About three years later, two U.S. citizens were ordered extradited to Mexico for the killings of two other U.S. citizens. Both suspects were arrested in the U.S. and then extradited to Mexico.
Notably, the announcement of the extraditions by the Southern District of California’s U.S. Attorney said: “The proceedings were held pursuant to the Extradition Treaty between the United States and Mexico, which obligates each nation to extradite offenders wanted in the other country.”
The treaty doesn’t always apply
There is at least one case in recent history when the treaty with Mexico was not honored by the U.S. At least, not yet.
Following the 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, the Mexican government moved to extradite the gunman for killing eight Mexican nationals during the shooting. Mexico’s foreign minister claimed the shooting was a “terrorist” act.
While Patrick Crucius just last month pleaded guilty to 90 federal charges from the mass shooting, the Washington Post reported at the time that it was doubtful he would be extradited to Mexico and be charged under that legal system.
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