A Dutch national linked to a major Phoenix-area Ecstasy smuggling scheme made his initial appearance in federal court in Phoenix, AZ following his extradition from the Netherlands last week.
Thirty-one year old Marvin Burnet of Amsterdam, was one of six defendants indicted in connection with the scheme to import MDMA, also known as Ecstasy. The charges stem from an investigation by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
US Attorney for the District of Arizona Paul K. Charlton stated: "This extradition was worth waiting for, and shows the strong commitment by law enforcement officials around the world to keep dangerous drugs out of our communities. This extradition was only possible thanks to the hard work and cooperation by our federal investigative agencies and their counterparts overseas."
Burnet's extradition has been pending since September 2005, when he was arrested by Dutch police in Amsterdam based upon an international arrest and extradition warrant issued by the US District Court in Arizona.
"We owe our law enforcement counterparts overseas a tremendous debt for their cooperation and support on this case," said Alonzo Peña, special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in Arizona.
"We've been waiting for this day for a long time. This sends an important message that we will not allow our borders to be barriers to bringing criminals to justice," he said.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum stated, "The arrest and extradition of Marvin Burnet is a major victory in our efforts to protect the public from the negative consequences of dangerous drugs. This achievement is a powerful example of the combined efforts of our partners in US and Dutch drug law enforcement."
The other five defendants in the case, including former Maricopa County Attorney Alexander Wade, have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced. A seventh suspect in the scheme, a Deputy District Attorney from Dallas who attended law school with Wade, was prosecuted by French authorities after being arrested at a Paris airport in 2002 with a shipment of Ecstasy tablets. Following the Dallas prosecutor's arrest, French authorities alerted US investigators about the smuggling scheme.
According to ICE and DEA investigators, the defendants in the case conspired to import hundreds of thousands of Ecstasy tablets made in Holland. Investigators allege Burnet served as the ring's chief supplier. Over the course of the probe, federal agents seized more than 180,000 Ecstasy tablets allegedly destined for the Phoenix area.
Burnet's trial is set for February 6, 2007. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.