Thursday, March 10, 2005

Law-enforcement officials want President Bush to ask Mexican President Vicente Fox at their March 23 meeting in Texas to extradite criminal aliens who fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution, including a Mexican national suspected in the killing of a Los Angeles deputy sheriff.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, in a letter yesterday to Mr. Bush, also asked the president to fulfill a promise he made to the family of slain Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David March. Mr. Bush told the deputy’s widow in 2003 during the Peace Officers Memorial Service in Washington, “We’ll get him back,” referring to the suspect.

The league sent a similar letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will attend the Texas meeting.

“President Bush’s repeated refusal to pressure Mexico to return accused killers of police officers to the United States is a silent way of giving these vicious killers an executive pardon,” said league President Robert Baker.

“Bush is sending a dangerous message to criminals in the U.S. and abroad, and he cannot allow Mexico to proudly harbor dozens of criminals who have killed in America and fled to Mexico to evade prosecution.”

The illegal alien, identified as Armando Garcia, fled to Mexico after the shooting, where he is protected by a 2001 Mexican Supreme Court order saying criminal rehabilitation is the goal set for violent offenders and that a death sentence or life imprisonment imposed by a U.S. court is “cruel and unusual punishment.” Garcia had been deported three times before the deputy’s slaying.

California law mandates either the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for those who kill a police officer.

Records show Deputy March was fatally shot April 29, 2002, after a 10:30 a.m. traffic stop by a man who started a fight with him and then pulled a weapon, shooting him in the side and the head to avoid hitting his flak jacket.

Garcia, a suspected drug dealer, later was identified by investigators as the killer. Immigration records show Garcia previously had been deported on three occasions from the United States as an illegal alien, but returned each time.

The Drug Enforcement Administration also said Garcia was a suspect in the sale of methamphetamines in California and later was convicted on felony drug-distribution charges and sentenced to four years in prison. He also was arrested in 2000 by police in El Monte, Calif., carrying a Tec-9 machine pistol — for which he was deported.

Records show he also was identified as the suspect in two drive-by shootings.

“When President Bush meets with President Fox, we ask him to remember the name of Deputy March, and the pain that his loved ones have endured while his accused murderer evades justice,” Mr. Baker said.

Deputy March was a seven-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He is survived by his wife and a teenage stepdaughter.

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