(Watch APTN’s 2012 interview with Seth Lazore)
APTN National News
Canadian authorities want to extradite an Akwesasne man from the U.S. who recently completed a 41-month sentence there for human smuggling, according to court documents.
Canadian federal justice officials submitted a request for the extradition of Seth Lazore through the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa on Oct. 15. The extradition request was made at the behest of Quebec which wants Lazore sentenced following his three year-old conviction on three counts of armed robbery and one count of assault, according to documents filed with the U.S. Federal Court in the Northern New York District.
The extradition request from Canada is primarily based on a Quebec bench warrant issued for Lazore after he failed to show up for his June 6, 2013, sentencing hearing following his guilty pleas on the four charges.
Lazore is fighting the extradition request and his hearing is scheduled for Dec. 10 in Albany, NY.
He remains in custody after failing to obtain bail.
Akwesasne, a Mohawk community which sits about 120 kilometres west of Montreal straddles the Ontario, Quebec and New York State borders, has been used by human smuggling networks to move people across both sides of the international boundary.
Lazore was sitting in U.S. custody by the time the date of his Quebec sentencing hearing rolled by, according to U.S. federal court records. He had been detained for his involvement in a July 2012 smuggling operation to bring three Canadians of Indian origin from Canada into the U.S., court records show.
Lazore eventually pleaded guilty to smuggling the men into the U.S. and was sentenced to 41 months in prison. That sentence has now been completed. He was living with his wife and three children on the U.S. side of Akwesasne when he was again detained pending the conclusion of his extradition hearing, according to court records.
Quebec wants Lazore, who has U.S. and Canadian citizenship, so he can be sentenced following his guilty pleas in relation to a Feb. 1, 2009, incident that left three men beaten on a winter ice road crossing the St. Lawrence River.
Lazore “ambushed” a car driven by Christopher Fritz and carrying two male passengers at about 6 a.m., according to court records. Fritz was driving on the ice road when he was blocked by red pick-up truck driven by Lazore. Lazore jumped out of his truck with a handgun and began yelling at Fritz to get out of the car, according to records. Fritz tried to make a run for it, but then heard bullets hit the rear of his car. Another bullet shattered the driver’s side window.
By this time a second, grey pickup truck had blocked the vehicle. Fritz and his two passengers then got out of the car and they were beaten by Lazore and a second man. Lazore searched their pockets and took money, bank cards and cell phones, according to court records.
Lazore was arrested the same day and made his first court appearance on Feb. 2, 2009. He pleaded guilty to the four charges on Feb. 15, 2012.
Lazore is also wanted in Ontario on a province-wide arrest warrant for his involvement in a human smuggling operation to bring a Nigerian family into Canada, according to RCMP Const. Jean Juneau with the Cornwall Regional Task Force. The task force is based out of Cornwall, Ont., and also includes Canada Borders Services Agency and the OPP.
The RCMP charged Lazore and several other individuals in relation to the smuggling of the Nigerian nationals on Sept. 6, 2012. Lazore was initially detained on the charges. He was released after his long-term girlfriend’s mother put up a $1,500 surety and a $5,000 bond and put under house arrest.
APTN interviewed Lazore about his charges in a location on Cornwall Island.
Lazore was then detained the following month by U.S. authorities on the July 2012 human smuggling indictment and remained in custody.
He struck a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern New York District pleading guilty to one count of human smuggling.
He was sentenced on Nov. 25, 2013. He spent six months in a halfway house.
During his Nov. 12 bail hearing on the extradition request, Lazore’s federal public defender submitted arguments for his release based on the support he currently has in the community and the needs of his family which has suffered from his incarceration.
“His family need him now more than ever. His absence for that period of time has made it very difficult for them to get by with even necessities,” said the submission filed with the court.