Posted on February 1, 2005

Mexican’s Arraignment Set in ‘94 Killing of DEA Agent

Jerry Seper, Washington Times, Feb. 1

A Mexican national extradited to the United States on Saturday after U.S. officials waived a possible death sentence to facilitate his return will be arraigned Monday in the 1994 killing of an undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Augustin Vasquez-Mendoza is accused in the June 30, 1994, murder of DEA Special Agent Richard E. Fass, 37, killed in Glendale, Ariz., during an attempted drug buy that erupted into gunfire.

An initial hearing was held 2 a.m. Sunday to determine whether Vasquez-Mendoza needed an attorney. He was ordered held without bail pending the arraignment Monday.

Mexican authorities took the drug smuggler into custody in 2000, and he remained there despite an immediate extradition request sought by the DEA. A legal battle stalled the extradition when the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the nation’s constitution forbade the extradition of suspects who faced life sentences in the United States.

The Mexican high court held that everyone is capable of being rehabilitated and that a life sentence precluded the possibility. To facilitate the extradition, U.S. officials waived a possible death penalty for Vasquez-Mendoza, recommending instead a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years.