U.S. can't get criminals who go home to Mexico

Many Southern Californians, politicians included, are being accused of lacking sensitivity and humanity because they are fed up with the stream of Mexicans pouring across the border.

Most complain about the hundreds of millions of their tax dollars that are spent on schooling, medical care and law enforcement for the illegal aliens.


But there is a lesser-known problem, which I touched on in an earlier column.

And that is the ease with which some of the illegal aliens literally get away with murder and other crimes.


The process is simple: You murder someone, then -- back across the border to Mexico, and you're home free.

That's because the Mexican government appears to believe that our extradition treaty is a one-way street. They expect the United States to send them American criminals who have committed crimes in Mexico. And we do that.

But Mexico doesn't believe in extraditing Mexicans who have committed crimes in this country.

In the earlier column, I described the case of Serapio Zuniga Rios, 29, who is accused of raping and almost killing a 5-year-old girl.

He ducked back to Mexico and is still at large, although Mexican authorities apparently knew where he could be found but did not grab him and ship him to California for trial.

But Rios is just one of many violent border-hoppers.

Recently a sampling of other crimes was put together by Sheriff Cois Byrd, of Riverside County.

In each case, the suspected criminal went back to Mexico, safe from arrest and prosecution.


Here are thumbnail sketches of some of the crimes:

* A man was robbed of $10,000. Then he was bound, gagged, set afire and burned to death. When police closed in on the suspected killer, he --ed for the border. As the report said: "Mexican authorities advised they would not extradite Mr. Marcos Garcia, as he is a Mexican national."

* A woman accepted a lift home from a man she met in a bar. On the way, he raped her. When she jumped from the car to escape, the man ran her down with his car. She later died. The man headed for Mexico. California police contacted the Mexican police in the suspected killer's hometown. The Mexican police promised to question the man. The results? As the report said: "Investigators received a telephone call from a relative of the suspect. The relative said the Mexican police did contact the suspect and took him away for questioning. The suspect returned a short while later, explaining he bribed the police with 3 million pesos ($900) to let him go. The suspect fled to Mexico City."

* A guy was waiting for his girlfriend outside of her home. An ex-boyfriend drove by. The ex-boyfriend was the jealous type and put five bullets into the new boyfriend. The report says: "The suspect fled to Vera Cruz, Mexico."

* There was a poker game. One of the players was accused of cheating and there was a fistfight. The cheat lost. But he went home, got a gun, came back, and killed the guy who had punched him. The report says: "The suspect fled to Mexicali, Mexico."

* Three men were shooting pool. They argued about the bets or some such thing. One of them left the bar angry. When the other two came out, the angry fellow was waiting and shot one of them to death. Says the report: ". . . Fled to Mexico and is believed to be in Guerrero."


* The woman had borrowed $2,000. Two men came to collect. The woman said she didn't have the money and didn't know when she could pay. That made the men angry, so one of them shot her in the head. The report says: "Both are believed to have fled to Michoacan, Mexico."

HTC * Miguel is driving somewhere when he spots two men he believes recently stole something from him. Miguel is a man of action. He grabs his gun and blazes away at the car, killing both men. Report: "Believed to have fled to Juaregui, Mexico."

The list goes on and on. A man is killed because he tried to retrieve a stolen welding tool from a thief. Another is shot in a barroom brawl. A man doesn't like the way his sister is treated by her husband, so he kills him. Three boozers have a quarrel, and one of them is stabbed 24 times. A woman dumps her boyfriend, so he kills her. A woman chides her boyfriend for coming home drunk, so he shoots her and her sister and runs them over with his car.

And those are just some of the border-hopping criminals in only one California county.

Sheriff Byrd, sounding a bit frustrated, said in a letter to Congressman George E. Brown:

"The ability of offenders to flee to another country, . . . knowing that the crossing of a border is similar to entering a safe house, is not acceptable. . . . There should be no free zones where criminal offenders can hide from justice."


Mexican politicians and police don't agree, unless they want an American extradited. And they can get downright indignant when we want one of their criminally inclined citizens.

When our narcs snatched a Mexican doctor, suspected of being involved in the murder of an American agent, Mexican politicians turned it into an international incident and insult.

But Rep. Brown is capable of indignation too. So he and several other congressmen have decided to use the timing of the NAFTA negotiations to call attention to the one-way extradition street.

They argue that we can't trust Mexican politicians in a historic economic deal if we can't get them to ship us some murderers and rapists.

I don't know if that is a valid argument. But it might be effective. Most Americans aren't economists. But they know what rape and murder are. And what fairness is too.