Extradition is the official process where one country transfers a suspected or convicted criminal to another country. The process dates back to at least the 1300s BC, when Ramesses II of Egypt negotiated an extradition treaty with Hattusili III, a Hittite king.
These days the best place for fugitives from U.S. justice to hide are Croatia, Kazakhstan, Dubai, Western Sahara, and Bhutan. According to Daily Finance, an online website for investors, those five countries have an affordable cost of living and no extradition treaty with the United States.
But it’s not easy to avoid extradition. A few of the more notorious suspects extradited to America in the past twenty years are:
Viktor Bout — 2010
A Russian citizen, Bout was arrested in 2008 in Thailand and extradited in 2010 to stand trial in the U.S.
Bout, 47, (pictured above) was accused of plotting to smuggle munitions and arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for use against American forces.
He was convicted in November, 2011 in Manhattan federal court and sentenced in April 2012 to 25 years in prison.
The arms merchant is now incarcerated at the federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. With all appeals exhausted, prisoner number 91641054 passes his time with a new hobby: salsa dancing.
Bout believes he has evidence to justify a new U.S. trial and has hired the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to help him pursue his case.
Christopher Tappin – 2012
British businessman Christopher Tappin was convicted of selling weapon parts to Iran. In January, 2013, following a two-year extradition fight, the London businessman was sentenced in America to 33 months in prison.
ICE maintained that between December 2005 and January 2007, Tappin attempted to purchase 50 Eagle-Picher batteries that are used as part of the electronics system of the Hawk, a surface-to-air missile deployed by Iran.
On September 28, 2013, Tappin was returned to England where he began serving the remainder of his sentence at HM Wandsworth prison, about an hour drive from his home. Tappin is scheduled to be released in November 2014.
Aleksandr Panin – 2013
Aleksandr Panin traveled to the Dominican Republic for vacation where local police detained him. Not concerning themselves with the need for a formal extradition proceeding, they put him on an airplane to Georgia. In Atlanta, Panin was greeted by U.S. Federal agents who arrested him. Panin appointed me to represent him.
When Panin got to court, he admitted writing a virus known as “SpyEye,” which first made its appearance in 2009.
According to industry estimates, the DOJ said, the SpyEye virus has infected more than 1.4 million computers in the United States and abroad, and it was the preeminent malware toolkit used from approximately 2009 to 2011.
Based on information received from the financial services industry, the DOJ said, more than 10,000 bank accounts were compromised by SpyEye infections in 2013 alone.
Arkady Bukh is a veteran New York criminal lawyer who handled the defense of many notorious cyber criminals, as well as international extradition cases. He can be reached at Bukh Law Firm P.C., 14 Wall St, New York NY 10005, +1 (212) 729-1632.