China sentences a Canadian and an American to death for drug dealing

China sentences one Canadian and one American to death as it penalises international drug-trafficking ring

  • Canadian Fan Wei led an international drug-dealing gang, said a Chinese court
  • He and his partner received death sentences today in Jiangmen, Guangdong
  • One American was also given a death sentence, but with a two-year reprieve 
  • The ring also included four Mexicans who were given at least life imprisonment 

The Canadian leader of an international drug-trafficking gang was sentenced to death in China today, according to a court.

One American citizen, a member of the gang, received a death sentence with a two-year reprieve, it is understood. 

Four Mexicans were also given suspended death sentences or life imprisonment, the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court in Jiangmen city of Guangdong Province announced.  

The Canadian and American individuals received their death sentence today at the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court (pictured) in Jiangmen city of Guangdong Province

The Canadian citizen has been named Fan Wei, who is said to have led the multi-national criminal syndicate in Guangdong Province together with an individual called Wu Ziping.

Wu Ziping, believed to be a Chinese national, was sentenced to death today as well.

The court said in an online statement that Fan and Wu were found guilty of producing and trafficking drugs in March, 2012. 

The pair were said to have recruited and worked with a number of ‘technicians’, including an American citizen identified as Mark and four Mexican citizens whose names are translated as Leon, Pedro, Oscar and Carrete. 

The gang also hired two individuals to produce drugs. They have been named Zeng Xianliang and Li Furong and they are both believed to be Chinese.

The news comes after Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg received the capital punishment by a court in Dalian in north-eastern China – also over drug-trafficking (pictured) 

Mr Schellenberg was initially sentenced 15 years in prison last year, but a high court deemed the decision ‘too lenient’ and gave him the death penalty in an open hearing on January 14

Authorities raided Fan and Wu’s drug production plant in Taishan, Guangdong, during July and November in 2012.

They were found guilty of producing and trafficking 63.8 kilograms (140 pounds) of methamphetamine and 365.9 grams of dimethyl amphetamine during the period, the court said. 

The court said Fan and Wu had manufactured and trafficked ‘a particularly large quantity of drugs’ and their crime was ‘extremely serious’, therefore they were given death sentences and their personal assets would be confiscated. 

The American citizen and four Mexican citizens were regarded as principal criminals. 

The American was given a suspended death sentence with a two-year reprieve, according to China’s Legal Daily.

Death sentence with reprieve is a type of death sentence under the Chinese Criminal Law. The convicted individual is given a two-year reprieve from the execution. At the end of the two-year term, the sentence will be reduced to life imprisonment if the individual does not commit further crimes within the period.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pictured addressing the media in Ottawa in January. He said he was concerned that China had chosen to ‘arbitrarily’ apply death penalty to a Canadian

The four Mexicans were given suspended death sentences or life imprisonment, but the court did not specify which ones received a suspended death sentence and which ones were jailed for life. 

Four other individuals, namely Zeng Xianliang, Li Furong, Liao Jianmin and Liu Zhihong, were given unspecified jail terms.  

The court said all convicted individuals could appeal against the ruling.  

The American citizen in today’s case is believed to be Mark Swidan (pictured) who was detained on drug charges in 2012

Although the full name of the American citizen has not been revealed, he is believed to be Mark Swidan, who is from Houston and was detained on drug charges in China in November 2012, according to South China Morning Post.  

Mr Swidan, reported to be 45 years old, was detained on ‘flimsy’ charges and had planned to kill himself to declare his innocence during his pro-longed confinement in Guangdong, reported Newsweek in 2016.

The report cited Mr Swidan’s mother who was in contact with an American consular official who had visited Mr Swidan at a detention centre.

Mrs Swidan told Newsweek that his son was taken by the Chinese authority after travelling to Guangdong to buy furniture for his wedding home and finding factories for a friend’s business.  

He was said to be held in a detention centre, where many inmates ‘are forced to make silk flowers with harsh chemicals’ for export.

MailOnline has attempted to contact the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court for further information on the case. 

A worker who answered the phone call claimed that relevant office staff did not have extensions, therefore it was not possible to reach them. 

Tensions have escalated between China and Canada since Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 last year. Ms Meng, pictured arriving at a parole office in Vancouver on December 12, is fighting extradition to the U.S.

This is the second high-profile court case in China this year which has resulted in foreign individuals being sentenced to death. 

In January, another Canadian citizen received the capital punishment by a court in Dalian in north-eastern China – also over drug-trafficking.

The sentence of the 36-year-old Canadian, named Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was announced amid ongoing tensions between Beijing and Ottawa over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

The court found Mr Schellenberg guilty of trying to smuggle 222 kilograms (490 pounds) of crystal meth from China to Australia.

He was initially sentenced 15 years in prison late last year, but a high court deemed the decision ‘too lenient’ and gave him the death penalty in an open hearing on January 14. 

Commenting on Mr Schellenberg’s case, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was concerned that China had chosen to ‘arbitrarily’ apply death penalty to a Canadian. 

Canada asked China to spare the life of Mr Schellenberg shortly after the sentencing, but China responded that it was ‘not worried in the slightest’ by mounting international concern over the punishment. 

China has executed other foreigners for drug-related crimes in the past, including a Japanese national in 2014 and a Filipina in 2013.

In 2009, a Briton, Akmal Shaikh, was executed in China on charges of smuggling heroin despite his supporters’ protest that he was mentally ill.

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