No. 332.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Evarts.

No. 838.]

Sir: The consul at Guaymas, Mr. Willard, has communicated to me the fact that the treasure express of Wells, Fargo & Co., had been recently repeatedly robbed in Arizona Territory by Mexican outlaws, who had taken refuge in the State of Sonora, Mexico, and that he had advised the governor of Sonora of these facts, and suggested to him the propriety of giving orders to the local authorities to co-operate with the agents of the company robbed, in order to secure their arrest and delivery to the proper authority for punishment. The object had in view by the consul was to secure the extradition of the criminals, although that is not expressly stated in his communication to the governor of Sonora.

Upon the receipt of the consul’s dispatch to the legation and accompanying papers, I sent a copy thereof to the foreign office, stating that it was done for its information, and added that I hoped the Mexican Government would see the necessity for adopting vigorous measures for the punishment of the criminals and the prevention of similar depredations in the future.

After sending my note to the foreign office, I received a second dispatch from the consul at Guaymas, with accompaniments, copies of which I now inclose; from which it appears that some of the criminals referred to have been arrested, but that the governor of Sonora states that, they being Mexican citizens, he has not the power to surrender them to the American authorities without express instructions from the federal Government of Mexico, and that the persons arrested will be held in custody until orders are received from the capital as to their disposition. The governor further says that all criminals, not Mexican citizens, upon proper proof will be delivered for extradition, as has already recently occurred in some cases; and that the pursuit and arrest of all outlaws from American territory taking refuge in Sonora shall be earnestly carried out.

Under date of the 25th instant, the acting minister of foreign affairs, in acknowledging receipt of my note, said that both the federal and state governments would earnestly endeavor to prevent that the criminals referred to should remain unpunished 5 but in that connection he alluded to the legal difficulties in the way of their punishment for crimes committed in foreign territory.

With respect to the extradition of Mexicans for crimes committed in Arizona, the minister states that the Mexican Government is disposed [Page 735] to concede it as soon as it may obtain a formal promise of reciprocity from the Government of the United States, and that to this end the Mexican minister in Washington had been instructed to ask for such a promise. He further refers to the proposition heretofore made by Mexico upon this point, and concludes by asking that I will urge upon you the importance of a declaration on the subject, in order that it may decide as to the extradition of the criminals in question now held in prison.

I answered the minister, thanking him for the assurances given that efforts would be made to prevent the criminals from remaining unpunished, which I hoped would not be without good results, and stating that I would call your attention in a special manner to the proposition contained in his note.

In response to the repeated complaints of our government that Mexican territory was made a safe place of refuge for criminals from the United States, the foreign office has proposed two remedies to the existing evil. One is contained in Mr. A Vila’s note, inclosed herewith, to wit, that each government will agree to extradite its own citizens. The other is embodied in the proposition first presented in Mr. Mata’s project of treaty of 1877, providing by federal legislation for the punishment of crimes committed in the territory of the other nation.

* * * * * * *

In the course of a correspondence recently exchanged with the foreign office, of which I hope to forward copies by this mail, I had occasion, in a note to Mr. Avila, to say that the disorders on the frontier can hardly be eradicated by the simple negotiation of new treaties; that the outlawry there has not originated so much from defective treaties as from the failure of the federal Government of Mexico to make its power felt and its orders respected in those regions; and that until it can overcome the difficulties arising from these causes, it would seem useless to discuss new treaties or agreements.

It is due, however, to the Mexican authorities adjoining the Arizona frontier to say that a better state of affairs, and a greater disposition to co-operate with the American officials, exist, than on the Rio Grande border; and in view of the growing spirit of outlawry which appears to have lately manifested itself there, and of the proposition now made by the Mexican Government for a reciprocal extradition of citizens guilty of crimes, it would appear desirable to take the condition of disorder in that region into careful consideration, with the object of agreeing upon some method whereby the frontier line should not be made a sure barrier against pursuing justice.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 838.]

Mr. Foster to Mr. Avila.

Sir: I inclose herewith, for the information of your honor’s government, a copy of a communication, with its accompaniments, from the consul of the United States at Guaymas, containing information of robberies recently committed by Mexican outlaws in Arizona, and that the criminals habitually take refuge with their plunder in Mexican territory, in the State of Sonora.

I trust your honor’s government will see the necessity of adopting vigorous measures for the punishment of the criminals and the prevention of similar depredations in the future.

With sentiments of the highest esteem, I am your honor’s obedient servant,

[Page 736]
[Inclosure 1 in Mr. Foster’s note to Mr. Avila.]

Mr. Willard to Mr. Foster.

Sir: I beg leave to herewith inclose, marked A, a copy of a letter which I have received from Mr. L. F. Rowell, assistant superintendent of Wells, Fargo & Co. banking express company), whose principal office is at San Francisco, Cal.; also, a copy of my communication to the governor of Sonora, accompanied by a copy of said letter, calling attention to the facts therein mentioned of the robberies of the treasure express of said company by Mexicans, the robbers taking refuge in Sonora.

The Mexican Government, I am aware, has opposed the extradition of its own citizens for crimes committed outside of its own territory; but in the cases referred to by Mr. Rowell, the robbers are confirmed criminals, and positive proof can be furnished as to their guilt and complicity in said robberies.

The governor of Sonora, I am satisfied, has every disposition to surrender criminals of this class, irrespective of nationality, but has informed me on former occasions that he has not the power to act without orders or instructions from Mexico.

As this question is one that may in the future lead to serious complications along the Arizona and Sonora frontier if not settled, and particularly is one that interests our citizens in Arizona, for this reason I respectfully ask that you call the attention of the Mexican Government to the facts contained in the referred-to inclosure; so that, if possible, power or instructions maybe given to the governor of Sonora to surrender criminals of the class referred to. I am fearful, if some measures are not taken to check Mexicans who commit crimes in Arizona from taking refuge in Sonora, border troubles and disorders will follow, injurious alike to the citizens of both sides of the boundary line.

I am, &c.,

A. WILLARD, Consul.
[Inclosure A in Mr. Willard’s dispatch of October 7.]

Mr. Rowell to Mr. Willard.

Dear Sir: Our express between Yuma and Tucson has been robbed by Mexicans three times in the past six weeks; in each case they have taken a bee-line for Sonora. By employing Indian trailers, our special officers, R. A. Paul and J. W. Evans, have followed them to Altar and other towns in Sonora, but the authorities refuse to surrender them. Paul has one under arrest in Altar and is endeavoring to induce the Mexican authorities to hold him until proper papers can be procured from the government of Arizona, but it is extremely doubtful if they will do so. Will you please try and induce the governor of Sonora to issue the necessary order to the prefects on the border to deliver up these marauders to our officers on a proper showing being made of their guilt? We will be obliged to withdraw our express from Southern Arizona unless we can put a stop to the frequent robberies by these brigands from a sister republic.

Please give this matter immediate attention and communicate by overland mail with our agent at Tucson, Mr. Claude Anderson. Mr. Valentine is now in New York (general superintendent).

Yours, &c.,


We have lost nearly $16,000 in the past six weeks by the above-mentioned robberies.—L. F. R.

[Inclosure B in Mr. Willard’s dispatch of October 7.]

Mr. Willard to General Mariscal.

Sir: I have the honor to herewith inclose a translation (from English into Spanish) of a communication received by me from Mr. L. F. Rowell, assistant superintendent of Wells, Fargo & Co., of San Francisco, Cal.

[Page 737]

By it you will learn of the occurrences which have taken place in the southern part of Arizona, with great detriment to the interests of said American company, and of the necessity which exists of giving some orders with the object of having a cessation or an end made to the insecurity to which said express line is exposed.

As the marauders referred to (in the inclosed translation), after having committed their robberies in American territory, take refuge in the frontier districts of the north of Sonora, it would be, perhaps, fit and proper that the State government under your charge would give the necessary orders, so that the authorities in the referred to districts would co-operate with the special agents of the company to apprehend the criminals and deliver them, after full and ample proofs of their guilt are shown, so that they can be tried according to law.

An order of this character will be favorable to both countries, and will save us from these brigands that are causing injury and damage on both sides of the line.

I fully comprehend that in relation to this business the government of the State is in a delicate position, but I hope you will study the situation with the calmness and care which the case requires, and give such orders as will be best for the interests of both countries so as to avoid complications which might originate from this source, and which has happened on the Rio Grande.

Accept, governor, the considerations of esteem with which I am at all times,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 838.]

Mr. Willard to Mr. Foster.

Sir: Referring to my dispatch of the 7th instant, I now have the honor to inclose yon, marked A, the reply of General V. Mariscal, governor of Sonora, to my communication addressed to him oi the 6th instant regarding the robberies committed on the treasure express of Wells, Fargo & Co., in Southern Arizona, the robbers taking refuge in Sonora.

In a private letter which I have received from Governor Mariscal, he informs me that he has written to the governor of Arizona, suggesting that the extradition of the Mexican criminals referred to in his communication be asked for direct from the Mexican Government. He also says that he has solicited from the general government the power to surrender to the American authorities these criminals (Mexicans) that may be apprehended in the future, when positive proofs of their criminality are shown.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure A in Mr. Willard’s dispatch of October 18.]

Mr. Mariscal to Mr. Willard .

[Copy of translation from Spanish into English.]

(seal.) mexican republic—government of the state of sonora.

I have the honor of receiving your communication, date of the 6th instant, in which you inclose me a translation of the note directed to you by Mr. L. F. Rowell, assistant superintendent of the Exchange, Banking, and Express Company of Wells, Fargo & Co., of California, United States, in relation to the robberies which have been committed in the south of Arizona, upon the express line of said company, to their great detriment and loss, and the necessity which exists of some measures’ or orders, with the object of having a cessation made to the risks which the said company are exposed; for the reason that the marauders, which are referred to in said inclosed note, after having committed robberies in Arizona, take refuge in the border districts of Sonora.

In answer, I am pleased to say that immediately on receipt of those occurrences, which I received from the prefect of Altar, and of the requisitions which were presented from the authorities of Arizona, I had the same sent to all of the prefects of the State, ordering a prompt prosecution and apprehension of the criminals as fugitives from justice from the United States, who had taken refuge in Sonora.

In consequence of said orders, as you will see by the copies of the demands which accompany this, a vigorous prosecution has been made which has resulted in the apprehension, [Page 738] in the district of Altar, of one Joaquin Franco, who is mentioned as one of the robbers of the stage between Tucson and Fort Yuma, and in Magdalena of two others. I have ordered said persons to be kept under secure arrest, but not to deliver them, they being Mexican citizens; I not having power to do so under the sixth article of the treaty of extradition between the United States and Mexico. This can only be done by an order from the general government of Mexico, to whom I have addressed myself, giving full information of this business and asking for instructions. In the mean while a persistent prosecution of this class of criminals is being made throughout the State, as you will see by the report which I inclose you from different prefects. You will also see that all criminals arrested, not Mexicans, have been immediately placed at the disposal of the American authorities or their agents.

Acknowledging fully the principles of morality and of justice, I am at all times ready and willing, to the extent of my authority, to curtail the evils to which the line of express in Southern Arizona is exposed, and have given a full account of the same to the general government, suggesting the necessity of those means which the case requires for the interests of both countries.

I renew to you, Mr. Consul, my appreciation and attentive consideration.

Liberty in the constitution.

[Inclosure B in Mr. Willard’s dispatch of October 18.—Translation.]

mexican republic—government of the state of sonora.

The governor has information that on the 7th instant, and under the charge of Ensign José M. Michelena and twelve federal soldiers, the criminal Oliver Boyd was sent to the frontier point called “La Chosia,” in order that from that place the extradition which the governor of Arizona has requested may take place.

I have orders from the governor to ask if the expenses of prison and extradition of Boyd have been paid by the authorities of Arizona.

Liberty in the constitution.


To the Prefect of the District of Arispe.

[Inclosure C in Mr. Willard’s dispatch of October 18.—Translation.]

prefecture of the district of magdalena.

The prisoners Gregorio Arce and Florentino Sains, accused of having murdered two American citizens near the Sierra de Guachuca, remain in prison awaiting further orders—informing you at the same time that no advice of this occurrence was given by me to the governor of Arizona, because he did not make any official request for their extradition, and I am only waiting for the judgment that will be given in consequence of the judicial investigation made by the judge of the first instance, a copy of which was forwarded to you by last mail.

Liberty in the constitution.


To the Secretary of State, Ures.

Note.—The persons are held in custody until orders come from Mexico. The prisoners are Mexicans and are of bad character.

[Inclosure D in Mr. Williard’s dispatch of October 18.—Translation.]

state of sonora, prefecture of the district of montezuma.

Annexed to the official order of the 26th ultimo I received the information and description of the criminals, who, after having committed in Arizona depredations which said information gives, they have taken refuge in Sonora.

[Page 739]

In attention to so important an affair, the said description was sent to all of the authorities of this district, ordering its prompt fulfillment; notwithstanding having information, not official hut from persons worthy of credit, that three individuals proceeding from Arizona had passed Montezuma, and after them a sheriff with a warrant, which notice was immediately sent by express to Tepache, where the criminals were. The authorities ordered their arrest, but before any action was taken they fired at the authorities, obliging them to return the fire. The result of this was the wounding of one of the criminals, the other two making their escape, one of them wounded in one arm. They were pursued a short distance, but having secured a favorable position farther prosecution was impossible—they (the criminals) being well-armed, while the pursuers had only three guns fit for use.

The horses and other articles taken from the criminals were delivered to the sheriff by order of the judge of first instance. All of which I will soon report officially to the governor of the State. I expect to receive orders as to the prisoner, his disposal, when he has recovered from his wound.

Liberty in the constitution.


To the Secretary of State, Ures.

[Inclosure E in Mr. Willard’s dispatch, of October 18.—Translation.]

prefecture of the district of magdalena.

Manuel Moreno, with ten men commissioned by this office, the 27th ultimo, to pursue the criminals whom the prefect of Altar informed me had come into this district, returned on the 1st instant without having been able to arrest them, and only was informed that they had taken the direction of the Sonora River, where it is believed they can be found. All of which I have the honor to inform you in answer to your note of the 26th ultimo.

Liberty in the constitution.


To the Secretary of State, Ures.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 838.—Translation.]

Mr. Avila to Mr. Foster.

Mr. Minister: The President being informed by your excellency’s note of the 21st instant, with its inclosures, relative to recent cases of robbery committed in Arizona, the authors of which have sought refuge in the State of Sonora, has instructed me to say to your excellency in reply, that the federal government and the government of that State will earnestly endeavor, in their respective spheres of action, to prevent that the criminals referred to shall remain unpunished, and that, it not being possible to try them or impose upon them condign punishment within the country for crimes committed in foreign territory, unless it be demanded in a legal way, and with the other concurring circumstances required by article 186 of the penal code of the district in force in various States for crimes of the common order, and in force in all the republic for those of the federal order, the government has charged the authorities of Sonora to endeavor to make this provision known to the authorities of the Territory of Arizona, to the end that the persons directly interested in such trials may institute them in conformity with said provision.

With respect to the extradition of Mexicans who, being authors of crimes committed in Arizona, take refuge in the state of Sonora, the federal government, as your excellency will see in the inclosed copies, is disposed to concede it as soon as it may obtain a formal promise of reciprocity on the part of that of the United States, instructions having been given to the minister plenipotentiary of Mexico in Washington to ask it.

Your excellency will remember that the Mexican Government in the project of treaty which it proposed to that of the United States for the adjustment of the difficulties of the frontier, included the stipulation for the reciprocal delivery of citizens—fugitives from justice. Experience is demonstrating how important it is that such a measure should be adopted upon the basis of reciprocity.

[Page 740]

The request of a Mexican frontier authority has recently reached this department to the end that the extradition of two American citizens of Texas should he asked for, who were surprised in the act of stealing horses, and who, on seeing their pursuers, crossed to American territory. But the government has thought proper to refrain asking such extradition, because it doubts whether its demand would be complied with.

If your excellency should think proper, you will be pleased to impress upon your government the importance of the declaration which that of Mexico expects from it upon this point, in order that it may decide with respect to the extradition of various individuals held at present in prison.

With protestations of high consideration, I am your excellency’s obedient servant,

[Inclosure 1 in Mr. Avila’s note.]

mexican republic—government of the state of sonora.

The government under my charge says to the Mexican consul in Arizona, United States, on this date, as follows:

“The prefect of the district of Arizpe, under date of the 14th instant, informs the department of this government that he has arrested in that district Nestor Estrada, the author of various crimes committed in Arizona. The government under my charge being interested in the punishment of the criminals who infest our frontiers between this State and that Territory, I have to-day decided that the said Estrada shall remain in safe custody to the end that if the superior political authority of that Territory desires the extradition of the said criminal it may be asked of the supreme government of the republic. With this in view, I hope that the consulate under your worthy charge will be pleased to report the arrest of the criminal to the governor of Arizona for such action as he may think fit to take, with the understanding that if he should not care to ask the extradition in the manner indicated you will be pleased to opportunely communicate it to me for my information. There are at present in the prisons of the State five criminals who have come to Sonora, fleeing from American justice which pursued them for highly criminal acts, and which deserve to be condignly punished. The government under my charge, upon arresting them in attention to justice and the demands of those authorities, has had the firmest disposition to effect their extradition; but as the parties arrested have proved to be Mexican citizens, the government has had to conform to the treaty of extradition existing between the two countries, which does not oblige either of the parties to extradite its own citizens, and for this reason the General Government of Mexico has been consulted and its decision asked with respect to the extradition of the said criminals, they being detained in the mean time with complete security. You may assure the governor of that Territory that, on the part of my government, no measures will be neglected for satisfying justice and the desires of the American authorities, and ail that which may tend to the preservation of the friendship and good relations which have happily existed in this region between Mexico and the United States, it being always understood that the dignity and honor of our country shall not be compromised thereby.

“I repeat to you on this occasion the consideration of my esteem.”

Which I have the honor to communicate for the information of the President of the republic and other ends.

Liberty in the constitution.


J. Quijada, Secretary.

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mexico.

[Inclosure 2 in Mr. Avila’s note.]

Mr. Avila to the Governor of Sonora.

mexican republic—department of foreign affairs—section of america.

Your communication of the 18th ultimo has been received in this department, with which you are pleased to inclose that which you addressed to the consul of the republic in Arizona with regard to the extradition of Nestor Estrada, and to the existence in the prisons of your State of five other criminals, whose extradition can only be accorded by this government in view of the fact that the prisoners appear to be Mexicans.

The President, whom I informed of said communication, has learned with satisfaction [Page 741] of all its contents, due to the earnest wish felt by your government that the criminals referred to shall not go unpunished, and the desire which you express to attend to the solicitations of the American authorities, provided always that the dignity and honor of our country are not compromised thereby. Although the President is animated by the same spirit, he thinks, nevertheless, that it is not decorous to grant the extradition of Mexican citizens so long as a formal promise of reciprocity is not obtained from the Government of the United States, and to this end instructions have been given to our minister in Washington to ask it.

You will be pleased in the mean time to transmit to this department the requisitions for extradition now made or which may be made by the proper authorities of Arizona, and you will continue with earnestness to cause the arrest of all criminals who may take refuge in any part of your State proceeding from that Territory, causing your order to be enforced that on no pretext shall the criminals already arrested be set at liberty, or those who may be arrested in the future, until the proper information regarding extradition is transmitted to you through this department.

Liberty in the constitution.

[Inclosure 4 in No. 838.]

Mr. Foster to Mr. Avila.

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your honor’s note of the 25th instant, in reply to the one addressed by me to you on the 21st instant, giving information of Mexican criminals, who, having committed robberies in Arizona, had fled to Sonora for refuge.

I tender my thanks for the assurance given that the Federal and State governments of Mexico will endeavor to prevent these criminals from remaining unpunished, and I hope their efforts in that direction may not be without good results.

I will communicate a copy of your honor’s note to the Department of State at Washington, and call its attention in a special manner to the proposition contained therein for a reciprocal extradition by each nation of its citizens who have committed crimes in the territory of the other.

With the renewed assurances of my most distinguished consideration, I remain your honor’s obedient servant,