Extraterritorial Conduct Targeting American Citizens or Interests is within U.S. Criminal Jurisdiction

The World in U.S. Courts: Summer 2013 - Criminal Law

United States v. Umeh (U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, June 10, 2013)

Appellants appealed from their convictions for conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Appellants argued they had been denied due process because their wholly extraterritorial conduct lacked the required minimum connection to the United States to support their prosecutions. Appellants also argued that their extraterritorial arrests violated the Mansfield Amendment, which prohibits U.S. law enforcement officers from conducting narcotics arrests in foreign countries. The Second Circuit rejected their arguments and held that their prosecutions were consistent with due process because their extraterritorial criminal conduct targeted U.S. citizens or interests: the jury specifically found that both appellants knew their cocaine would reach the United States.

Appellants argued that their arrests in Liberia also violated the Mansfield Amendment, which provides that “[n]o officer or employee of the United States may directly effect an arrest in any foreign country as part of any foreign police action with respect to narcotics control efforts.” This argument failed because Appellants were arrested by officers of the Republic of Liberia National Security Agency, not U.S. law enforcement. Appellants’ claims that extradition procedures were not properly followed failed as well, since U.S. courts are not required to assure themselves that foreign countries have observed their own internal procedures.

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