PHOENIX – 29 January 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Paul K. Charlton; Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Timothy J. Landrum; and Glendale, Ariz. Police Chief Andrew Kirkland, announced that the Government of Mexico extradited Augustin Vasquez-Mendoza to the United States today.
He will stand trial in the State of Arizona for his role in the murder of DEA Special Agent Richard Fass, which occurred on June 30, 1994, in Glendale, Ariz. Vasquez-Mendoza was removed by DEA Agents from Mexico City to Glendale, Ariz., where he is expected to arrive Saturday afternoon.
“This is a good day for law enforcement. We are grateful to the Mexican government and look forward to presenting this case to a jury,” stated U.S. Attorney Paul K. Charlton.
On June 30, 1994, Special Agent Richard E. Fass, while operating in an undercover capacity, was shot numerous times by associates of Vasquez-Mendoza. At the time, Vasquez-Mendoza was the head of a criminal organization that owned and operated several clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in the Mexican State of Sonora. Following the crime, four individuals were identified as being involved in planning the robbery/murder of Special Agent Fass. Shortly thereafter three of the four suspects were arrested and charged with the crime. Vasquez-Mendoza managed to evade capture and fled to Mexico. The three suspects arrested and charged were subsequently convicted and sentenced for their part in the murder of Special Agent Fass. On July 9, 2000, Vasquez-Mendoza was arrested in the State of Puebla, Mexico, and an extradition was requested for his return to the U.S. to face charges.
“The return of Vasquez-Mendoza to Arizona has been a long time coming. This is a wonderful day for all law enforcement,” stated DEA Special-Agent-in-Charge Landrum. “Vasquez-Mendoza’s extradition serves notice that the worldwide efforts of the DEA will be brought to bear on all those who harm or kill DEA Special Agents and that these individuals will be brought to justice. We are grateful to our Mexican counterparts for their efforts in both the arrest and extradition of Vasquez-Mendoza,” added Landrum.
The manhunt for Vasquez-Mendoza had been one of the most intense in recent U.S./Mexico law enforcement history. Phoenix DEA Special Agents immediately began searching for the fugitive while the Glendale Police Department homicide unit initiated their murder investigation against Rafael Rubio-Mendez and Juan Vasquez-Rubio. Vasquez- Mendoza was eventually placed on the FBI’s Top Ten List. DEA, FBI and the Department of State offered rewards for his arrest. The arrest and extradition of Vasquez-Mendoza culminates a long and arduous investigation led by DEA’s Phoenix Field Division with assistance from the Mexico City Country Office and the Glendale Police Department.
“Today we achieved the outcome we’ve been working so diligently on for almost 11 years. The exhaustive work of the Glendale Police Detectives, partnering with DEA, made today’s extradition of Vasquez-Mendoza possible,” stated Chief Kirkland.
“We are very happy that Vasquez-Mendoza is in U.S. custody,” stated Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Rapp and Keith Vercauteren have previously been cross-deputized as Special Deputy County Attorneys and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be responsible for the prosecution of Vasquez-Mendoza.
Agencies involved in this investigation include DEA, FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Glendale Police Department, Phoenix Police Department and law enforcement authorities in Mexico.
An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.