Bogotá. The Colombian consul in Beijing, Jaifa Mezher, said to Caracol Radio that drug traffickers between the Latin American and the Asian country use the route Bogotá – Sao Paolo – Dubai – Guangzhou. ‘I do not have information about a net of drug dealers using Colombians, but that route does not require visa [for Colombians],’ said the official after she visited Guillermo Álvarez, one of the Colombians sentenced to death penalty for drug trafficking in China.
Mezher said also that Álvarez is sorry for his crime and that he accepted to transport drugs to China due to poverty. He was sentenced by a court of Beijing to death penalty, but it is conditioned on good behavior and previous crime records in Colombia. He is in a prison in Beijing. He sent a message to the Colombians not to fall in the manipulation of the drug dealers, mentioned the consulate official. ‘I am not a bad man, but I did it because I was desperate,’ concluded Álvarez through Mezher, who added that he has faith in God and the best disposition to change that sentence.
Harod Carillo, a taxi driver from Cali that was arrested by the Chinese authorities for carrying 3 kilos of drugs, is jailed in the southern Province of Guandong and another official from the Colombian consulate will meet him next week, said Mezher to the Colombian radio. The family of Carrillo, among them three teens from an impoverished suburb of the industrial city of Cali, is trying to get in contact with him for more than a year, but it has been impossible.
Death penalty for drug dealers
The Minister of Justice of Colombia, Germán Vargas, declared that although he is not agree with death penalty, Colombians must respect the laws of the countries they stay and submit to their rules.
On December 2009 a British man from London, Akmal Shaikh, 53, and father of three, was executed for drug smuggling, although he denied any wrong doing and his family declared that he was mentally ill. At the time, the Chinese Embassy in England reported that Shaikh’s rights ‘were properly respected and guaranteed, while the ‘British concerns were duly noted and taken into consideration.’ The execution was condemned by then British Primer Minister Gordon Brown, who says that he was concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken. [1, bbc] The Chinese Embassy stated that the amount of heroin that Akmal Shaikh brought into China was 4,030g, ‘enough to cause 26,800 deaths, threatening numerous families.’ According to the Chinese law, 50g of heroin is the threshold for death penalty.
On April 2010 four Japanese citizens were executed for drug smuggling. Mitsunobu Akano, 64, Teruo Takeda, 67, Hironoru Ukai, 48 and Katsuo Mori, 67. The three last were working together to smuggle drugs into the Chinese territory, but they were arrested in different airports in Liaoning. [2, japantimes]. Japanese officials at the time considered that death penalty was too harsh for that crime. Japan has also death penalty, but not for drug smuggling.
Colombian officials have been less overwhelming than Japan and England with China in the case. It reduces its role to ask clemency for the two Colombians, but they keep a more respectful role of respect for the Chinese judiciary.
On the other hand, Colombians start to react on the issue, especially through forums on the Internet:
A commentator in the Caracol Radio website, who signed as El Justiciero (The Righteous), says that Colombia should support the Chinese government in order to fulfill the sentence as soon as possible, because the drug dealers threat the youth. Another anonymous concludes that death penalty for drug dealers is a good instrument to fight drugs, because criminals will think twice before wrong doing.