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Court won't block extradition for alleged heroin dealer
LOS ANGELES - A federal appeals court has knocked down an alleged heroin trafficker's attempt to block his extradition to Thailand, where he faces charges that carry a possible death sentence.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that U.S. courts have no power to block the extradition. The appeals court found that a lower court judge did not violate Suwit Prasoprat's due-process rights by denying his request to block the extradition.
The appellate court said Prasoprat should have appealed to the State Department, not U.S. District Court, in his effort to avoid extradition.
"When the offense for which extradition is sought is punishable by death, the question of whether to refuse extradition is ... within the authority of the executive branch," Judge Wallace Tashima wrote.
U.S. courts have no power to refuse extradition as long as the crime charged is covered within an extradition treaty, the decision said. Moreover, there was probable cause that the crime was committed, the court added.
Prasoprat has been in federal custody since May 2001, after being arrested on an extradition warrant.
After reviewing evidence supplied by an informant working with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the lower court agreed with the DEA that there was probable cause to believe that Prasoprat trafficked heroin between Bangkok and Los Angeles from 1998 to 2001, according to court records.