An arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect in the death of Shanquella Robinson. But in the nearly two weeks since news of the warrant broke, there's been no confirmation of an arrest.
Robinson, from Charlotte, traveled with six acquaintances to Cabo, Mexico. She arrived on Oct. 28 and died Oct. 29.
Police records, a Spanish to English-translated death certificate, and the stories her family heard from Robinson's travel companions conflict on how she died.
A video of a fight where a woman is beating and repeatedly striking Robinson has gone viral. Robinson's mother, Sallomandra told CBS News she recognizes her daughter in the footage. The Observer has not been able to reach Robinson's immediate family members.
The legal and political issues surrounding the case leave a lot up in the air and it is unclear how officials in the U.S. will proceed. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the process is typically a very long one - particularly the phase of surrender or extradition, if granted.
Officials have to decide whether the arrest warrant issued by Mexican authorities has merit, and whether to extradite a U.S. citizen for a crime committed against another U.S. citizen in a foreign country. If a U.S. arrest warrant is issued, the defendant in a case such as Robinson's can fight extradition and ask to be tried in the U.S.
The State Department declined to comment on whether or not they would extradite the suspect. Extradition between states or nations is the process of one government sending a suspect to another government in order to face criminal charges, go to trial or be imprisoned.
"As a matter of long-standing practice, the Department does not comment on extradition matters," The department told the Observer earlier this month. "The Department does not provide confirmation of or commentary on investigations due to privacy and law enforcement considerations."
The department said it "supports a thorough investigation into the circumstances of this incident and is closely monitoring local authorities' investigation."
Who is suspected of killing Shanquella Robinson?
So far, authorities in Mexico have not publicly released the name of the person on the arrest warrant. An arrest warrant specifies criminal charges against someone and provides law enforcement officers the go-ahead to make an arrest.
One news outlet, MetropliMx in Cabo, has reported - based on an unnamed source - that one person on the trip with Robinson has been detained in the U.S.
The Charlotte Observer has checked police and court public records - local, state and federal - both in and outside of North Carolina and found no confirmation that the person rumored to be the suspect has been taken into custody or placed under arrest.
The Observer is not naming individuals on the trip with Robinson because we have not independently verified the identity of the person on the arrest warrant.
Coffindaffer said an arrest likely hasn't taken place yet. Despite the rumors, she said, there's a problem with reports circulating that Interpol arrested a person connected to Robinson's death.
Interpol is mainly a communication network that shares information regarding fugitives between countries. It does not handle arrests, Coffindaffer said.
Interpol communicates information regarding suspects and fugitives via red notices.
From the time of authorities in Mexico announcing a warrant was drawn through Dec. 6, a red notice from Interpol had still not been issued for a suspect in Robinson's death.
Extradition to Mexico
Mexican authorities have requested a suspect be extradited from the U.S. to Mexico to face charges of femicide in Robinson's death. The U.S. and Mexico have a treaty in place from 1978 that allows for this.
The request is investigated by the Department of Justice and eventually is sent to the State Department for final approval.
Because of the treaty, what happens next more of a "political issue" than a legal one, said Dmitriy Shakhnevich, a criminal defense attorney and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Shakhnevich said "more often than not" the U.S. will comply with a country it has a treaty with when it comes to extradition requests.
"If the authorities here in the U.S. deem it appropriate, then they will pursue the people for whom the arrest warrant was issued," Shakhnevich said. "And then those people will engage in a legal process here in the U.S, which involves going through the federal courts and then ultimately appealing (the extradition decision)... to the Secretary of State."
If an arrest is made, bail is typically denied in extradition cases and the State Department will review the request, Shakhnevich said.
The Secretary of State in the State Department actually makes the extradition decision, Shakhnevich said.
FBI investigation of Shanquella Robinson's death
Before authorities in the U.S. make an arrest for someone wanted in another country, the FBI will investigate to determine if there is "sufficient cause" for the person to be extradited.
However, determining cause doesn't mean that the FBI will investigate and double-check Mexico's criminal investigation.
"But again, the whole purpose of the treaty is so one country doesn't really question the other, right," Shakhnevich said. "The treaty means that we are understanding of each other's legal processes such that if we come to a decision, then that decision must be abided by."
The FBI confirmed on Nov. 18 an investigation was opened. The FBI told the Observer this week that they had no updates on the case and that it was ongoing, they would not comment on whether or not a U.S. arrest warrant had been issued.