After more than two years of legal manoeuvring, Nyron “Batt” Erickson has been extradited to the United States to face allegations that he conspired to transport drug proceeds from this territory into the US, Police Information Officer Diane Drayton confirmed on Tuesday.
US law enforcers flew to the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island on Monday to pick up Mr. Erickson, who had been held at His Majesty’s Prison since turning himself in to Virgin Islands police on Aug. 30, 2020.
In recent years, Mr. Erickson had battled the extradition with a series of legal manoeuvres that finally dead-ended recently with an unsuccessful attempt to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The US extradition request stems from a criminal indictment issued by a federal grand jury sitting in St. Thomas in August 2019. The indictment accused Mr. Erickson and two men who had been arrested in St. Thomas in 2018 — Akil Erickson of Orlando and Mikiel Robin of the VI — of international money laundering conspiracy and bulk cash smuggling.
Proceedings against Akil Erickson and Mr. Robin continued until June 2020, when USVI District Court Judge Robert Molloy dismissed the charges with prejudice after finding that federal prosecutors had used “intentional and calculated” steps to improperly delay the prosecution of the pair
Meanwhile, however, proceedings against Nyron Erickson continued. In February 2020, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force announced that it had issued an arrest warrant for the then-27-year-old.
Though VI police circulated Mr. Erickson’s photo and appealed for public assistance in locating him, he was not taken into custody until surrendering to the RVIPF on Aug. 30, 2020.
On Oct. 20, 2020, the US attorney general issued a certified extradition request in connection with the 2019 indictment. Ten days later, then-Governor Gus Jaspert issued a certificate to proceed, according to a later High Court judgment.
An extradition hearing commenced in November 2020. After several adjournments, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards dismissed challenges made by Mr. Erickson and remitted the case to Governor John Rankin, who had succeeded Mr. Jaspert, on July 1, 2021, the judgment stated.
On Aug. 13, 2021, Mr. Rankin issued an order for the extradition. The following month, however, Mr. Erickson’s attorneys requested leave to appeal, which was granted by the High Court on Dec. 15, 2021, the later judgment noted.
During the appeal hearing last year, Mr. Erickson’s attorneys argued that he would not receive a fair trial in the US and that he would experience pressure to plead guilty, among other claims, according to the judgment in the matter. However, High Court Justice Richard Floyd, who delivered that judgment, was not convinced.
In his Aug. 11, 2022 decision, he stated that “the court recognises and supports the presumption that the appellant will receive a fair and just trial in the requesting state.” Mr. Floyd acknowledged that Mr. Erickson had a constitutional right to liberty and security, but he stated that the court was satisfied that his detention followed the lawful procedure authorised by the Extradition Act 2003 (Overseas Territories) Order 2016, which he noted was the applicable extradition legislation.
As such, the judge dismissed Mr. Erickson’s appeal. Mr. Erickson then attempted to have this ruling overturned through an appeal to the Judicial Committee of Privy Council, which is the territory’s final court of appeal, but his efforts did not succeed.
In the USVI, a detention hearing was set for Mr. Erickson at 2 p.m. yesterday before Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller.