Bush Administration Attempts to Send FBI Informant to Certain Death in
Colombia - After she helped the United States
government to identify a major Colombian drug lord, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service is attempting to deport Maria Rosciano to a
certain death in her native Colombia.
Rosciano, a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1984,
was induced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug
Enforcement Administration to obtain information about the drug lord and
assist in the convictions of members of a trafficking ring in exchange
for a lighter sentence in her own conviction.
Despite an undisputed finding that Rosciano's life is in danger in her
country, the Bush Administration yesterday appealed the U.S. District
Court's September 10, 2002 decision granting Rosciano a stay of
deportation "until such time as the [government] can show that she is
not likely to be murdered in Colombia."
In October 1999, a San Francisco immigration judge determined that
[Rosciano's] "life is in danger from the drug traffickers in her native
Colombia and that it is likely she will be killed if returned to
Colombia because she helped United States law enforcement officials
learn the identity of a major trafficker and she helped convict two
Although the Bush Administration does not contest that finding, it
proceeds in its effort to remove Rosciano.
Rosciano's attorney, Robert B. Jobe, criticized the Administration's
decision to appeal. "This is a moral outrage, and from a policy
standpoint, it's idiocy. No one is going to want to cooperate with the
FBI if doing so puts her life in danger and the U.S. government is not
only unwilling to protect her, but is actively trying to put her in
harm's way," Jobe said.
Rosciano will remain detained by the Immigration and Naturalization
Service until the U.S. Court of Appeals rules on the Bush
administration's appeal. This is expected to take at least another year.
Meanwhile, Rosciano's two U.S. citizen daughters wait to hear whether or
not their mother will be deported to Colombia to face a fate similar to
that of their aunt, who was killed after she provided Rosciano with
information that the FBI requested.
Chronological Background of the Case
In 1996, Rosciano's brother was murdered by drug traffickers because of
his role in a failed drug transaction. The FBI was interested in the
drug cartel involving Rosciano's brother, and specifically in the
identity of a major drug lord involved in the failed drug transaction.
The FBI believed that Rosciano would be able to help them track down
this information. Shortly after the death of her brother, the FBI sent
confidential informants, also of Colombian descent, to move in next door
and befriend Rosciano at her home in an effort to discover the desired
information. The confidential informants conducted a sting on Rosciano's
property, which resulted in her arrest and conviction.
Still eager to learn the identity of the drug lord, the authorities made
a plea agreement with Rosciano: in exchange for a shorter sentence,
Rosciano would use her familial connections in Colombia to help the FBI
obtain information about the drug lord, as well as assist in the
convictions of the parties involved in the drug transaction conducted on
her property. Because Rosciano was not a U.S. citizen, she was fearful
of losing her immigration status upon assisting the authorities.
Although the U.S. government refused her requests in obtaining a visa
which would have enabled her to stay in the U.S., they assured her that
she would not be deported if the trial judge recommended that she not be
deported. The trial judge did so recommend that she not be deported.
Nevertheless, in 1999, upon finishing her sentence, Rosciano was placed
in removal proceedings by the INS. The Immigration Judge made a finding
that Rosciano would be killed if returned to Colombia. However, Rosciano
was statutorily ineligible for relief because her drug trafficking
conviction was considered a "particularly serious crime." The Board of
Immigration Appeals affirmed the Immigration Judge's decision.
Rosciano was terrified of the prospect of being returned to Colombia,
and therefore filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the United
States District Court, and a temporary restraining order prohibiting her
deportation to Colombia. In her Petition, Rosciano asserted that because
they took her into custody and induced her to become an informant, the
government was obliged not to send her to certain death. Ironically, the
government does not dispute that Rosciano will most likely be killed if
sent to Colombia. Indeed, the government represented to Rosciano that
removal would be unlikely--however, they are now attempting to deport
On September 10, 2002, the U.S. District Court granted Rosciano's
Petition, stating that the INS and the U.S. government could not deport
her unless they could provide that she is not likely to be murdered. On
Monday, November 12, the U.S. Attorney's office filed an appeal.
Meanwhile, INS refuses to release Rosciano from jail. In fact, it
appears that Rosciano will be held in custody as long as the case is
Robert B. Jobe, Esq.