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Ye Gon still isn't gone

The Justice Department's case against Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-born Mexican millionaire accused of being a major methamphetamine trafficker, dissolved in federal court last year.

So what's he still doing in a D.C.-area jail? The Mexican government wants him extradited for trial, after all.

Since the government's case evaporated in August, the Justice Department and Gon's attorneys have been slugging it out for months over Mexico's extradition request.

At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola said he was going to begin carefully reviewing evidence to see if it supports Mexico's request, according to a blog post by Mike Scarcella of the Legal Times.

It is just the latest chapter in a strange case. At the time of his arrest in 2007, at a Wheaton bistro, federal prosecutors alleged that Gon conspired to import massive amounts of methamphetamine from his base in Mexico into the United States. His arrest came shortly after Mexican authorities raided his Mexico City mansion and seized $207 million in cash, most of it in $100 bills.

But last year, the Justice Department acknowledged running into evidentiary problems and asked a federal judge in the District to dismiss all charges against Gon. In court papers, the Justice Department also said that authorities felt that Mexico was a better place to prosecute the millionare.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan granted the government's request.

The government has since been trying to convince Facciola to allow authorities to transfer Gon to Mexico. More to follow when Facciola issues his ruling.

-- Del Quentin Wilber

By Del Wilber  |  February 3, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Del Quentin Wilber , From the Courthouse  
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