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U.S. v. CHAPARRO-ALCANTARA

March 5, 1999

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JUAN CHAPARRO-ALCANTARA, AND JAIME ROMERO-BAUTISTA, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scott, District Judge.

OPINION

This cause is before the Court on Defendants' Joint Motion to Suppress Statements.

I. Background

Juan Chaparro-Alcantara and Jaime Romero-Bautista are Mexican citizens who have been granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States. They have been indicted for transporting illegal aliens on October 21, 1998, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324 (a)(1)(A)(ii).

Law enforcement agents arrested Chaparro-Alcantara and Romero-Bautista on October 21, 1998, in South Jacksonville, Illinois, after discovering that the Defendants were driving a van filled with 13 Mexican nationals that were illegally in the United States. After their arrest, Chaparro-Alcantara and Romero-Bautista were transported to the Springfield, Illinois office of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service ("I.N.S."). In Springfield, I.N.S. Agent Tom Merchant advised each Defendant in Spanish, his native language, of his Miranda rights. However, neither Agent Merchant nor the I.N.S. notified the Defendants of their right to contact Mexican consular officials during their detention. Subsequently, the Defendants made some inculpatory statements which they now seek to suppress.

  1. With a view to facilitating the exercise of consular functions
     relating to nationals of the sending State:
    (a) consular officers shall be free to communicate with the
    nationals of the sending State and to have access to them.
    Nationals of the sending State shall have the same freedom with
    respect to communication with and access to consular officers
    of the sending State;
    (b) if he so requests, the competent authorities of the receiving
    State shall, without delay, inform the consular post of the
    sending State if, within its consular district, a national of that
    State is arrested or committed to prison or to custody pending
    trial or is detained in any other manner. Any communication
    addressed to the consular post by the person arrested, in prison,
    custody or detention shall also be forwarded by the said authorities
    without delay. The said authorities shall inform the person concerned
    without delay of his right under this subparagraph;
    (c) consular officials shall have the right to visit a national
    of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention,
    to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal
    representation.

Vienna Convention, Art. 36, 21 U.S.T. at 100-101. (emphasis added).

The Government makes two arguments in opposition to the suppression motion: first, Chaparro-Alcantara and Romero-Bautista lack "standing" to seek redress from a violation of the Vienna Convention because the Article does not create private enforceable rights. Second, even if they did have standing, Chaparro-Alcantara and Romero-Bautista failed to show prejudice from the I.N.S.'s failure to advise them of their treaty rights.

For the reasons stated infra, the Court denies the ...


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