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We have two civil defendants in an asset forfeiture suit against their real property. Both are members of a drug cartel and their whereabouts in Mexico are unknown. One of the Defendants has a wife that lives in the valley. All of the information that we have on Defendant one is that he has been kidnapped and may or may not be dead. On Defendant 2 we know that he is alive and living in Mexico but do not know where he is located.
Any suggestions on how we serve these Defendants with the civil suit.
Posts: 1 | Location: Conroe, Texas 77304 | Registered: April 02, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If there is a criminal action pending and the defendants are out on a surety bond you could seek substitute service on the bonding agent. If you have information that the wife is still in contact with the husband, substitute service on the wife is possible for that defendant. If all else fails there is service by publication.
Posts: 109 | Location: Llano, TX USA | Registered: June 29, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It's going to more complicated than that. Both Mexico and the USA are signers to the Geneva Service Convention Treaty and that governs (not Tx Rules of Civ Pro) all service in civil matters. Under the Geneva Service convention you'll need to translate the citation and documents you are attempting to serve into spanish and basically serve it via mail to the mexico consulate (or some other mexican agency). The central mexican agency will then attempt to serve the defs themself. I'm not sure how the convention handles substitute service but if the convention applies, it governs how you could legitimatelly serve them.

Of course, you always could argue since 59 is in code of crim procedure, and asset forfeitures are quasi criminal, geneva convention should not apply. The case law is not great for that argument but there is an asset forfeiture case out of california that affirms local sub service on def from spain (another co-signer to geneva service convention). You might want to find that case.

If you don't know for sure that they're in Mexico perhaps that's another way to get around the treaty. Of course, under TX rules you can just do sub service either by publication, posting,or however the judge thinks is reasonably calculated to give them notice.

When i handled asset forfeitures on the border we just did service on mexico via texas rules of civil procedure, but on one big forfeiture case this came up via the ad litem and it was a huge headache. In that case the judge made us go back and do service by publication in both an america and mexican newspaper (which still didn't make sense or comply with the treaty) which cost an arm and a leg.
Posts: 15 | Registered: April 21, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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ADA WTX is correct that things are a bit more complicated. But there are actually two multilateral treaties on service signed by the U.S. and Mexico, and neither is a geneva convention.

1) 1965 Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (usually just called the "Hague Service Convention" - this is likely what ADA WTX was referring to)


2) Interamerican Convention on Letters Rogatory).

There is also a treaty on mutual legal assistance between our countries (MLAT) for criminal matters which may have already been discussed or utilized by the prosecutors on this board.

This State Department page gives an explanation and links to the relevant treaties specific to Mexico.

In a nutshell, under the service treaties, a request for service get sent to the central authority for each country (or transmitted from one to the other) who then take care of effectuating service if possible. The central authority for the United States under both treaties is the Dept of Justice, but they have out-sourced it to a private company called Process Forwarding International (website for PFI The central authority for Mexico is also the same for both treaties and is located in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (specific contact info available from the treaty webpages)
Posts: 1 | Registered: April 12, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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