Video: Congressman outraged over 'Dog' arrest

By Rita Cosby MSNBC Anchor
updated 9/26/2006 9:06:52 PM ET 2006-09-27T01:06:52

MSNBC's Rita Cosby talks to Rep. Tom Tancredo about the arrest of bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman.  Tancredo says there is more to the story than has been reported, and calls on the public to contact their representatives in support of Dog.

You can read the transcript below.

RITA COSBY: Now let’s talk about something else that’s heating up in Washington, and it relates to TV’s most famous bounty hunter, Duane “Dog” Chapman, who’s making headlines again.  We know that Duane “Dog” Chapman is hoping to strike a deal in an effort to avoid extradition to Mexico to face charges stemming from his capture of convicted rapist, Andrew Luster, there three years ago.  And now Dog’s arrest is reaching Capitol Hill and some members there are furious.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales one U.S. Congressman says, “I’m beginning to wonder who is in charge of prioritizing assignments, is it this administration, or the one in Mexico City?” And joining us now from Washington is the congressman who wrote that letter, Tom Tancredo. He is a Republican from Colorado.  Congressman, who do you think is calling the shots?  That’s a pretty strong letter.

CONGRESSMAN TOM TANCREDO: Well, you’re right, but you listen… you look at all of the events that have occurred here in the last several years and the fact that the Mexican military routinely comes across our border that - and we do noting about it. You do wonder why we are so reluctant to deal with Mexico in a way we would with any other nation, and in this case there are just so many questions that are unanswered.  This is, uh, it’s really bizarre to say the least.

COSBY: Yeah, you know, do you feel priorities are out of whack on both sides of the border?  You know, I’ve been down there, I’ve seen just how difficult it is managing, how bad that area is, and then, yet, we have an issue of drug lords, killers, all these things right on the border, and they’re going after Duane “Dog” Chapman from three years ago.

TANCREDO: That’s exactly… that’s my point. That was the point of my letter to them. Every time we ask them - either the Justice Department or at state about why they aren’t doing more in terms of securing our border, why they aren’t doing more in rounding up the 400,000 illegal aliens in this country that have committed other crimes, they always tell us they don’t have the resources.  But in this case, they have the resources to go after a bounty hunter who, in fact, has done more for justice in this country than the Justice Department for the most… from my pint of view, at least most of the time.  And in this case, in particular, he goes down there with the knowledge of the federal government, the United States government  - he goes down there and works with the Mexican police in arresting this guy who has, what, I don’t know, 86 rapes, right?

COSBY: Yeah, yeah, 86 counts.

TANCREDO: Eighty-six counts - who’s now serving 120 years.  And now we’re going after - spending time and money going after Dog Chapman? Well, listen, this is ridiculous and, you know what Rita?  There’s far more politics in the - in this issue than there are issues revolving around justice.

COSBY: Well, let me ask you about that, Congressman, because I found it extremely ironic - and I’ve covered this case for years - now, Dog Chapman gets arrested and then, suddenly, out of the blue, uh, one of the worst drug lords who the U.S. has wanted for some time - and I think we have a picture of him - suddenly gets brought to the United States for justice.  Do you smell a deal here? Do you smell some sort of rat - that maybe there was some trade?

TANCREDO:  I think there is more to this story than just what was printed originally. You bet there’s other things here.  We have been pressing Mexico for years now to actually extradite people back to the United States who have committed heinous crimes here. One was in Colorado, in my state. A guy killed a… a Denver police. Uh, I’ve forgotten what his rank was but, uh, Donny Young was his name. Killed him - Garcia-Gomez was the name of the perpetrator - fled to Mexico. We finally were able to get him back by bringing all kinds of pressure to get them to extradite.  But, you know, this is - and so now, I think, in a way, they’re looking and saying “OK, you’re - you’re pushing us to extradite these people back, we’re going to extradite somebody like Dog.”  But it’s not the same. I mean, frankly, we’re talking about murderers here. There are 3,000 murder warrants out in Mexico- in California alone -for people who have fled to Mexico. 3,000.

COSBY: It’s Amazing

TANCREDO: It isn’t a quid pro quo here, you know?  Dog Chapman, what did he do?  He detained somebody down there in Mexico.  That’s a sentence that carries, like, four months. Four months?

COSBY: And I want to ask you,Congressman, you spoke with the Dog directly, I also spoke with him last week here, also on MSNBC - what was that conversation like?  What role do you think you can play now to help him?

TANCREDO: Well, it’s a - huh - the latter half of your question is the really tough one.  Here’s what I’m going to try to do - well, the conversation was great for me. I’ve never spoken to him before, but I’ve been an admirer of his for a long time. I watch the program all the time, I must tell you.

COSBY: You’re a fan.

TANCREDO: Oh, I am a fan, a big fan. But, um, here’s what I’m going to try and do - and here’s how maybe even your viewers can help me.  I’m going to write a letter - we have penned another letter - this time to the Department of State, and we have been very specific in our request to drop this whole thing.  Now, in order for that letter to have enough power behind it to make them pay attention over at State, I need other members to sign onto it - so it’s going to be on my website - you know, you can go to, it’ll pop up - it’ll be on my website.  What I need your viewers to do is to talk to their congressmen and get them to sign onto that letter. We’re going to send it out to everybody, but I need pressure from constituents to their legislators, telling them to sign onto the Tancredo letter.  That’ll get us a lot more clout, if you know what I mean.

COSBY: All right, congressman, thank you very much.  And I know the Dog and his family appreciate your support. Thank you so…

TANCREDO: Hey, my best to them.

COSBY: Thank you so much, Congressman.  Great to have you.

TANCREDO: All right. Bye-bye.

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