Humberto Álvarez Machaín

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Humberto Álvarez Machaín is a Mexican physician from Guadalajara, Mexico, who was accused of aiding in the torture and killing of the American Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Enrique Camarena Salazar, in February 1985. Álvarez is a resident and citizen of Mexico.

Early life[edit]


A federal prosecutor in Los Angeles confirmed that Álvarez had been captured in Mexico by bounty hunters seeking a reward offered by the US government, giving rise to concerns over the legality of his apprehension. However, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration continues to deny news reports that it had offered a reward of as much as $100,000 for the capture of Álvarez.[1]


Álvarez was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, California, in 1990 for alleged complicity in the kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena-Salazar and his Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala-Avelar in Guadalajara, Mexico in February 1985.[2] The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a warrant for Álvarez's arrest after his indictment.


Álvarez was tried for Camarena's kidnapping, torture, and murder in 1992. After the presentation of the government's case, the district court judge granted Álvarez's motion for judgment of acquittal on the ground of insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict. The district court specifically concluded the government's case was based on "suspicion and hunches, but no proof" and that the theory of the prosecution's case was "whole cloth, the wildest speculation."[3] As a result, Álvarez was repatriated to Mexico.

Suing United States[edit]

In 1993, Álvarez initiated a civil action in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging numerous constitutional and tort claims arising from his abduction, detention, and trial.[4] Sosa, Gárate, five unnamed Mexican nationals, the United States and four DEA agents were listed as defendants.[5] The district court ruled in favor of Álvarez in the amount of $25,000, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed Sosa's liability on appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari (a review) on December 1, 2003 to determine the issue of whether Álvarez was entitled to remedy, pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute.[6] The Supreme Court held that an illegal detention of a single day did not constitute a sufficient harm for relief.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Philip Shenon, U.S. Says It Won't Return Mexican Doctor Linked to Drug Killing, The New York Times, April 21, 1990
  2. ^ See Alvarez-Machain v. United States, 331 F.3d 604, 610 (9th Cir. 2003). Álvarez was charged with committing and conspiracy to commit violent acts in furtherance of racketeering activity (18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1959 (2000)); kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap a federal agent (18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(5)); and felony murder of a federal agent (18 U.S.C. §§ 1111(a), 1114).
  3. ^ Alvarez-Machain v. United States, 331 F.3d 604, 610 (9th Cir. 2003).
  4. ^ Alvarez-Machain, 331 F.3d at 610. Alvarez's complaint alleged claims sounding in: (1) kidnapping; (2) torture; (3) cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; (4) arbitrary detention; (5) assault and battery: (6) false imprisonment; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (8) false arrest; (9) negligent employment; (10) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (11) violations of the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
  5. ^ Id. at 610.
  6. ^ Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 540 U.S. 1045 (2003) (order granting petition for certiorari).
  7. ^ Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004)