Hungary Vexes US by Refusing to Give Up Russians Trading Arms to Mexican Drug Cartel
Hungary is sending the suspects wanted by the US back to Russia.
Hungary’s government has caused the anger of the United States by refusing to hand over two Russian arms dealers who were trying to sell anti-aircraft weapons to Mexican drug cartels in exchange for cocaine.
Instead of deporting the two men, a father and a son, Vladimir Lyubishin Sr. and Vladimir Lyubishin Jr., to the US, Hungary was going to send them back to Moscow, the US State Department announced on Tuesday.
Washington is concerned the two Russian arms dealers might not even stand trial in Russia.
Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban has been a major cause of concern to the EU, especially its Western European states, with his quest for building a much criticized “illiberal democracy” as well as his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and seeking to maintain close ties to Russia.
“The United States is disappointed in the Hungarian government’s decision to extradite the Lyubishins to Russia,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Hungary is a partner and friend of the United States, but this decision raises questions about Hungary’s commitment to law enforcement cooperation,” she emphasized.
“This decision is not consistent with our law enforcement partnership, undercuts the work that our agencies had done together to build this case, and will make citizens in the United States, Hungary, and the world less safe,” she added.
According to US court documents, the United States has a strong case against the suspects on drugs and weapons charges, including conspiring to sell Russian-made military grade weapons including anti-aircraft missiles.
An October 2016 complaint filed in US District Court in New York, the Lyubishins conspired to send narcotics into the United States and supply weapons to protect the drugs shipments.
They were conducting the transactions, which occurred in an unspecified European country, with what they thought were associates of a Mexican drug cartel, who were in fact informants of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
A Hungarian government spokesman said his country’s justice minister had made the extradition decision based on relevant international law agreements.
“Hungarian TEK officers captured the Russian arms dealers. The laws of Hungary apply to everyone in Hungary,” he said, as cited by Reuters.
The United States had rejected eight of nine extradition requests from Hungary in the past five years, he added.
Hungary’s leader Orban recently scandalized the international community by allegedly helping Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski escape his country in order to avoid a prison term.
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