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Mexican Doctor, Kidnapped by DEA, Pursuing Lawsuit


March 1993

Mexican physician Humberto Alvarez-Machain, who was freed by a U.S. District Judge last December after being kidnapped from Mexico and held in the United States for almost three years, will sue law enforcement officials, according to his attorney and an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney who opposed the kidnapping (Gail Diane Cox, "Drug War's Big Showcase Falls Apart," The National Law Journal, 2/1/93, p. 8).

The kidnapping of Alvarez-Machain from Mexico to the United States on April 2, 1990 at the orders of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents sparked an international outcry, and ultimately led to a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the kidnapping by U.S. law enforcement officials suspected criminals from foreign nations despite extradition treaties was upheld as legal [U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 250 (1990)]. Alvarez-Machain was thought by the DEA to have participated in the 1985 torture-murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena.

But the Mexican doctor was freed by U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie in Los Angeles in mid-December 1992. Rafeedie did not permit the case to go to the jury, ruling that the DEA case was "the wildest speculation."

Alan Rubin, Alvarez-Machain's attorney, and Paul Hoffman, legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, said there are a variety of causes of action to pursue against U.S. law enforcement. Both attorneys asked President Bill Clinton to issue an executive order barring kidnappings similar to that of Alvarez-Machain. And they urged an investigation of law enforcement activity in the case, noting that immediately after Alvarez-Machain's acquittal, prosecutors revealed they had just received potentially exculpatory evidence.