Thursday, March 23, 2017

HA associate Steven Douglas Skinner to be extradited

A Venezuelan court ruling that surrenders a Nova Scotia fugitive to Canadian authorities reveals new details about Steven Douglas Skinner's five-year run from justice. The 43-year-old former MMA fighter has been in a Venezuelan jail since he was handcuffed on a beach last May. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Stacey Adams, 20, in April 2011. Two days after the murder, Skinner was on the run.
Skinner is named as a member of an illegal drug organization that police dubbed the Belanger Group. Police say it was headed by Ryan Belanger who trafficked drugs in Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia. The group imported large quantities of cocaine from Mexico, and Skinner's contacts included associates of the Hells Angels.

While Mexican police investigated the death of major B.C. drug dealer Thomas Gisby, a search of a residence uncovered photos that showed Skinner dead. He was not dead but had been living in Mexico under the name Steve Shannon. Steve Shannon is one of at least four aliases Skinner had been using while on the run. It's believed Skinner had been living in Venezuela since February 2015. There, he'd been using the names Paul Segura Fitzgerald and Shane Sampson Martinez. When the law finally caught up with him at a popular Venezuelan beach, he called himself James Alexander O'Neill Pirela.
Skinner was on Interpol's most-wanted list — considered armed, dangerous and violent. Since his capture on the Venezuelan beach, he's been in custody for 10 months, during which time he tried to escape from prison by bribing guards and is actively involved in drug trafficking.

On October 24, 2016, a Venezuelan court granted the extradition of Skinner to Canada. It's not clear when he will be returned to face his fate. His case illustrates how time-consuming the extradition process can be.