On the counter-narcotics front, there was the case of Ricardo Fanchini, a Polish national who our Drug Enforcement Administration had identified as a lead member of an international drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating in the U.S., the U.K., and throughout Europe . The DEA, working with several other foreign law enforcement agencies, initiated an investigation into Fanchini's criminal activities, and the U.K.'s Serious Organized Crime Agency determined that Fanchini was living and operating here. We were able to identify several members of his organization operating in the U.S., and ultimately indicted him on drug and money laundering charges.
In October 2007 , members of the Metropolitan Police Service Extradition Unit arrested Fanchini in London based on a Provisional Arrest Warrant generated in New York. Subsequent searches resulted in the seizure of documents and computer records. Fanchini did not contest his extradition to the United States , which happened this past January. He and four co-defendants currently are awaiting trial in New York.
Fanchini had been identified by various European law enforcement agencies as an international criminal for years. It took a lot of cooperation and coordination between the U.S., U.K. and other countries to bring about his arrest, but in the end he will be made to face the charges against him. Let me cite another example of joint counter-terrorism cooperation. In 2006, the U.S. also provided significant assistance to the crown prosecution service in its prosecution of the "operation crevice" trial, which involved a foiled Al Qaeda bombing plot in the U.K. During the trial, we arranged to have a cooperating witness from New York, Muhammad Junaid Babbar, travel to London for 6 weeks in order to provide live testimony. That testimony proved to be critical evidence in the case, resulting in the conviction of 5 defendants.
These are just three of many examples. We also benefit from strong prosecutor-to-prosecutor relationships and through well established and well functioning formal mechanisms of cooperation, such as through our 1994 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
Dozens of mutual assistance requests are transmitted by the Department of Justice and by the Home Office every year. These requests are fulfilled not simply as a matter of treaty obligation, but out of a shared commitment to combating and eliminating transnational crime, including terrorism and corruption. It is the investigators in our countries who are, in large part, responsible for the fulfillment of these obligations, as they are the ones who often are obtaining and serving court orders, gathering evidence, executing searches, and conducting interviews.
Our nations benefit also from our long-standing extradition relationship, which spans more than two-hundred years. As the law evolves over time, so do the treaties that define it. The US-UK relationship was modernized most recently by the 2003 extradition treaty, which gives equal service to both nations in ensuring that criminals are brought to justice. In force now for just under one year, this treaty is complemented by a modern U.K. extradition law, which has leveled the playing field for our nations and holds the United States to the same extradition standard as 20 other nations.
Since the treaty entered into force, both nations have used it effectively as a tool to fight transnational crime. Among the defendants for whom extradition has been requested are people wanted for homicide, narcotics trafficking, fraud, money laundering, and tax offenses. Currently awaiting extradition to the United States from the U.K. are a half-dozen people wanted for terrorism offenses.
Notwithstanding our success in pursuing joint investigations, informal cooperation, formal mutual legal assistance, and extradition, we recognize that we have to assure the public that we are doing so in a fair manner. For example, U.S.-U.K. extradition relations have been subjected to a string of attacks that have created public misconceptions about the treaty.
These criticisms were most recently raised last November following guilty pleas, and last month following the sentencing, of three British nationals connected to the Enron scandal. Some have claimed erroneously that the extradition treaty was negotiated to target terrorists, not ordinary criminals. Others claim that the legal burdens faced by the U.K. and U.S. in extradition are lopsided, with a far greater burden needing to be met by the U.K. Both claims are simply mistaken.