Apprehension of Suspect in International Waters, Not Territorial Waters of Another Nation, Precludes Extraterritoriality Challenge

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

Ruiz Estupinan v. United States, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98528 (M.D. Fla. July 15, 2013)

Cordobo-Rodriguez v. United States, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102144 (M.D. Fla. July 19, 2013)

Defendant challenged his prosecution under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, claiming the United States has no jurisdiction over activities occurring in the territorial waters of other nations. Consistent with numerous other courts, the District Court for the Middle District of Florida rejected this argument because the defendant was not apprehended in territorial waters, but in international waters. Although it is correct that the U.S. may lack jurisdiction over the territorial waters of another nation, application of the MDLEA to activities on the “high seas” is constitutional pursuant to the Piracies and Felonies Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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