- Title: USA/MEXICO: Chinese-Mexican suspected meth king arraigned in a U.S. federal court
- Date: 25th July 2007
- Summary: BLACK
- Embargoed: 9th August 2007 13:00
- Reuters ID: LVA48KCUUEJ6P2YYSO5GSJVEJ0PV
- Story Text: The Mexico City businessman who is wanted in connection with one of the largest narcotics trafficking rings in North America appeared in court on Tuesday (July 24).
Zhenli Ye Gon, the most wanted men in Mexico, was arrested at a suburban Washington restaurant on Monday evening (July 23). Mexican law enforcement authorities have sought Zhenli's extradition from the United States ever since the discovery four months ago of a horde of 206 million U.S.
dollars in his Mexico City mansion.
However, according to Ye Gon's attorney, Martin McMahon, it was not an extradition issue in court as he had expected. Rather Ye Gon was charged with conspiring to aid and abet the distribution of 500 grams of methamphetamine in the United States.
"It's a single charge of conspiracy to aid and abet in the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, allegedly coming from Mexico to America. I was here, I thought, in connection with an extradition proceeding. So it was a bit of a surprise to me that the sole criminal charge we are talking about is this simple criminal aiding and abetting of conspiracy," said McMahon Mexican police in March raided a mansion owned by Ye Gon and found wads of U.S. bank notes in bulging suitcases and overflowing closets.
Mexican President, Felipe Calderon said on Tuesday that Ye Gon has been arrested on the request of his government.
The money seized at Zhenli's home -- the world's largest cash seizure in a criminal case -- was allegedly connected to Zhenli's dealings in pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in the manufacturre of narcotic methamphetamine. Mexico law enforcement asserts that since 2004 Zhenli, who was the chief executive of the pharmaceutical company Unimed Pharm Chem de Mexico, had been importing pseudoephedrine into Mexico and selling it to a cartel which processed the stimulant and shipped it to the United States in the form of methamphetamine.
McMahon reasserted what Zhenli has said before, that he is the unwitting victim of a Mexican government plot.
"A 150 million of that money is from the political party that won that election. The rest of the money he legitimately earned. One of the reasons he didn't have that money in a bank is typically after an election in Mexico, the peso is largely devalued. But we have an explanation for that. But when you say its political in the sense that this has been a staged drug raid and I think this is part of that on going process," said McMahon.
McMahon also said that they will seek political asylum for Ye Gon because they are convinced that he will not receive a fair trial in Mexico.
"President Calderon has already convicted the man. He has said a number of times that this man needs to go to jail. So what kind of justice can he get in Mexico, when he tells 40 or 50 million Mexicans that this guy is guilty," said McMahon.
He added that most of the evidence in Mexico against Ye Gon have been destroyed and that there is nothing left to examine.
Ye Gon will be produced in federal court on August 3 for another hearing to determine detention prior to trial.
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