- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been asked by 29 members of Congress to deny an extradition request by the Mexican government for Duane “Dog” Chapman, the Honolulu-based bounty hunter who faces charges there for his capture of a fugitive convicted rapist three years ago.

“Just days before the Mexican statute of limitations on prosecuting Chapman were set to expire, it seems the State Department is proceeding with efforts to extradite Mr. Chapman back to Mexico to face criminal prosecution,” the House members said.

“It makes no sense. It seems that Mexican authorities are pressing this case only because they are so stung by the embarrassment of failing where Mr. Chapman succeeded,” they said.

Mr. Chapman, 53, who stars on the television show “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” was arrested last month by U.S. marshals in Hawaii on charges of illegal detention and conspiracy in his June 18, 2003, capture in Mexico of cosmetics heir Andrew Luster. Also arrested were Mr. Chapman’s son, Leland, 29, and an associate, Timothy Chapman, 41, no relation.

Bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, and Mexican Consul General Martha Lara told CNN that Mr. Chapman was not permitted to enter the country to pursue fugitives.

After spending a night in a Honolulu jail, Mr. Chapman was released on $300,000 bail. The others were released after posting $100,000 bail. The three have been ordered to appear at an extradition hearing, which has not been scheduled.

Charges have been pending against the three in Mexico since their arrest of Luster. They posted bail but never returned for a July 15, 2003, court hearing. Mexican authorities had demanded that Mr. Chapman transfer Luster to their custody, but he refused.

A spokeswoman for the Chapman family, Mona K. Wood, described the arrest as “shocking” and declared that Mr. Chapman’s file will be cleared.

“This was a shock, and is obviously a very upsetting time for the Chapman family,” she said. “Chapman is a true modern-day hero. He arrests the bad guys — he is definitely not one of them. He shall be vindicated.”

Luster, 39, was taken into custody by the bounty hunters at a Puerto Vallarta nightclub more than five months after fleeing the United States while on trial on charges he raped three women. He was returned to California to begin serving a 124-year prison sentence.

He is the great-grandson of Max Factor, who built a cosmetics empire in the 1920s that catered to the movie industry.

Luster was convicted in absentia with raping the women after drugging them with GHB, the so-called date rape drug. Prosecutors said investigators found videotapes of Luster having sex with the unconscious women.

A U.S. couple spotted the fugitive in Puerto Vallarta and contacted the bounty hunters. They also had called the FBI, and a legal liaison for the FBI was en route from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Puerto Vallarta to follow up on a tip.

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