U.S. Appellate Court Applies MLAT to Pre-Charge Investigations

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Bruce Zagaris
On March 31, 2003, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the U.S. Government had to honor a Canadian request for assistance under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty and issue subpoenas in connection with an investigation into possible criminal activities. The case has more interest than usual because it involved Canadian law enforcement authorities’ investigations of an alleged smuggling operation designed to evade payment of Canadian duties, thereby resulting in a revenue loss for the Canadian Government. The smuggling activities allegedly started in 1989. The U.S. started its own investigation. During the investigations, the two governments shared information and resources. The investigation allegedly involved seven individuals. After unsuccessfully trying to conduct voluntary interviews with the seven individuals, the Canadian authorities turned to the formal legal process. The case concerned the interpretation and application of the U.S.-Canada MLAT, signed on March 18, 1985, which entered into force on January 24, 1990.