Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Towards Lesser Crime In JB (8)

Foreigners And Drug

Three Mexican brothers Luis Alfonso Gonzalez Villarreal, 43, Simon Gonzalez Villarreal, 36, and Jose Regino Gonzalez Villarreal, 33, are natives of Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Culiacan, Mexico, is considered a cradle of the drug trade.
The brothers are accused of being part of the Sinaloa cartel and members of an international network for the production and distribution of methamphetamine in Southeast Asia.

The three men, together with a Singaporean, Lim Mun Wang, 54, and a Malaysian, Lee Boon Sian, 46, were arrested at 3.15pm in March 4, 2008 at the IPL Packaging Industries Sdn Bhd factory in Jalan Idaman 1/5, Senai Industries Park, Senai, Johor Bahru.
It is a secluded factory in the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia's southern Johor state.

Police found a drug laboratory and approximately 240 kilograms of methamphetamine.
The lab was believed to have been operating for about six months before the raid.

All five were charged with trafficking in 29,460.17gm of methamphetamine worth RM44 million.
They face the mandatory penalty of death by hanging if convicted.

The judge hearing the case, Justice Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh, said that based on the evidence by a prosecution witness, a chemist, it was proven that there were traces of drugs at the scene, on the various processing equipment as well as on the clothing and on the accused.
He said based on the evidence by witnesses, the court also found that the factory was used to make and process drugs.
Justice Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh is known for his strict adherence to the law and in recent years has condemned more than 30 people to the gallows.

The High Court ruled in February, it was unreasonable to conclude that it was a mere coincidence that the Mexican brothers were at the factory during the raid.
The accused, who are charged under section 39 B (1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act, were represented by lawyer Kitson Foong, who has been on the case since January.

The attorney offered an outline of how the brothers ended up in Malaysia.
They were seafarers,working and  travelling on ships.
They came over to Vietnam first in search of work, and then were promised jobs on a merchant ship in Singapore.
While they were waiting to board the ship in Malaysia, they found employment for a couple of weeks cleaning factories.
They are in Malaysia on tourist visas, but facing the death penalty for alleged drug trafficking which had been adjourned until June 2.

The Gonzalez brothers have been held in a maximun security prison since their arrest in 2008.
During the nearly three years the brothers have been in custody, they have received no visits from relatives.

The only  visit was from the Mexican Embassy.
Embassy personnel have met several times with the men, and have been in contact with their lawyer.
The lawyer has been called to the Mexican Embassy in Malaysia to update authorities on the case.
A report in the Milenio newspaper spread their story to a wider audience.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry, in a statement said, it has offered and will continue to offer consular assistance to the brothers.
The Mexican authorities offered to support them in obtaining legal representation, but the three opted to get their own counsel.
Last January, using their own resources, the defendants hired a new lawyer.

The Mexico's Foreign Ministry, in a statement said Mexican authorities have also been in touch with the Gonzalez family in Mexico to offer advice.
The family denies that the government has briefed it on the case.


Prosecutors have presented drugs and paraphernalia that were allegedly found at the trio's location the night of the raid.

But police have lost a third to a half of the seized drugs.
Four policemen are under investigation for the loss, and one committed suicide, the lawyer said.
Lawyer Foong dismissed the evidence as unpersuasive.

Because the evidence had been tampered with, it should not have been admitted in court.
The judge accepted the evidence, to the utter surprise of everyone.
Now, the three terribly scared Mexicans are pleading for a fair trial.

Lawyer Foong rejected any suggestion that the Gonzalez brothers exemplify the growing reach of the Mexican drug cartels.
Not every Mexican is a drug trafficker, as there is no evidence of that in this case.
Mexican drug cartels are known to have spread their operations into Central and South America.
Although there have been reports of activities in Asia, but activities in Asia is very limited and not very well tested or sourced.

Under Malaysia anti-drug laws, any person found in possession of at least 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin, 200 grams (30 ounces) of marijuana, 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of cocaine and 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of methamphetamine is presumed by law to be a drug trafficker.
A mandatory death sentence is the punishment if convicted of violating its strict laws against drug trafficking.

The brothers'  lawyer has urged that a translator be sent help prepare the defense.
The lawyer said that the three have no ties to any drug trafficking organisation and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If the defense attorneys are unable to convince the judge of the brothers innocence, they will be convicted and sentenced to death.
A plea was sent to the Mexican media for help after his attempts to request assistance from the Mexican Embassy.

The Mexicans' other brother, Jose Gonzalez Villarreal, from the western city of Culiacan, has urged their country's government to help them, saying the family has only spoken to the three suspects twice since their arrest.
They have little knowledge of developments in the case.
Their parents are in despair over the situation.
The mother of the three Mexicans jailed in Malaysia is pleading for authorities to intervene in their case.

Referring to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Carmen Villarreal Espinoza, the mother, as quoted from CNN said, "I ask that he lend us a hand to get our sons out of there."
And she added, "I ask God to help us, to give us strength."
Mother Villarreal said the last time she heard from her sons was after their arrest in March 2008.
They called to say that they had been mistaken for drug traffickers and arrested.
She learned they faced a death sentence only when she read a newspaper article.
She like to see them, but a heart ailment and lack of funds mean she cannot fly to visit them.
Being poor and lacking of resources, they have not been able to do anything.

"My sons -- thank God, who never have traveled down a bad path -- they have no criminal history, nothing," she said.
Her sons used to make bricks for a living in Mexico but left in February 2008 for better opportunities.
They told her that a friend had invited them going to a job, without telling her where they were going.
They would likely be back by Mother's Day.
But well, they never came back.

If there is no possibility of acquittal, then hanging is the only other one sentence prescribed by law.
Even if the brothers are convicted, they would still have two layers of appeals that could last three years before they are exhausted.

The three brothers from Sinaloa have no criminal record in Mexico, a major drug trafficking hub and the cradle of a powerful Mexican cartel of the same name.
But in Malaysia, they were charged with violations of Malaysia's Dangerous Drug Act.

The U.S. State Department warns potential visitors that “Malaysia strictly enforces its drug laws.
If you possess, use or traffic in illegal drugs in Malaysia, you will be sentenced to significantly longer prison sentences and much heavier fines than in the United States [or Mexico].
Malaysian legislation provides for a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers.
 If you are arrested in possession of 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin or 200 grams (seven ounces) of marijuana, you will be presumed by law to be trafficking in drugs.”

The Malaysian legal system enforces this law and had executed several foreigners.
Several drug traffickers from Australia have been convicted and executed in Malaysia.
In 1986, Australian citizens Kevin John Barlow and Brian Geoffrey Chambers convicted of trafficking heroin, were hanged.
The Australian government did attempt to defend Barlow and Chambers,but polling indicated little sympathy for the pair among the Australian public.
Even with the intervention of appeals from Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Foreign Minister Bill Hayden, the executions went on as scheduled.
In 1993, another Australian, Michael McAuliffe, was hanged for drug trafficking.

Besides the Gonzalez Villarreal brothers, a Philippines female college lecturer and another two Zimbabwean women are other foreigners facing trafficking charges now.
Malaysia, unlike the United States, where there are many Mexicans, appeals may fall on deaf ears.


Taiwanese Men On Drug Trafficking Charge Escape Gallows

JOHOR BARU: Four Taiwanese men escaped the gallows when the High Court acquitted and discharged them on a charge of drug trafficking.
Judicial Commissioner M. Gunalan made the decision after defence counsel Naran Singh and G.K. Sritharan managed to raise a reasonable doubt in the case against Chung Sheng Wen, 37, Chang Min Yen, 36, Chang Yun Sheng, 32, and Wu Sheng Yuan, 32.
The four were charged with trafficking Nimetazepam (or Erimin) weighing 43.033 grammes in March last year.
They were alleged to have committed the offence at a factory at No 12, Jalan Angkasa Emas 6, in the Tebrau Industrial Area 2 here, at about 5.30am on March 22, 2009.
They were charged under Section 39B (1) (a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, punishable under Section 39B (2) of the same act, and read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Umar Saifuddin Jaafar, in his submission, said all the accused, who were arrested at the factory, were involved in processing and trafficking the drugs.
However, Naran Singh said that during the raid on the factory, all his clients were on the upper level of the building and were unaware of the activities which took place on the ground floor.
"The prosecution only relied on certain evidence. Besides, there was no specific evidence to prove the direct involvement of the accused in the drug processing activities, or that the accused knew anything about it," he said.
Naran Singh said the prosecution also failed to call the key witnesses in the case - the security guard and tenants of the building - to testify.
In his judgement, Gunalan said the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused and their involvement in the case.
"The prosecution succeeded in proving that all the accused were in the factory, but failed to prove that they were involved in drug-processing activities.
"It also failed to prove the direct involvement of the accused in the possession of the tools and exhibits seized from the premises. Therefore, all the accused are freed of the charge," he said.

Source: Malay Mail - Monday, December 27, 2010


Al-Manar said...

Seeing the damage caused by drugs I have lost any sympathy for traffickers.But court cases take a long time to reach the ends.

Ummie said...

The three brothers may be innocent, may be guilty.
But reading about them on several sites showed, like you, readers have lost any sympathy for traffickers.

Surprisingly, they urged other countries to follow the same death penalty.