Tuesday, April 5, 2011

China Executes Drug Traffickers

This is one of those stories we see in the headlines from time to time and we generally skim it, shake our head and move on, at least that is what I find myself doing. Maybe it’s time to call a little more attention to this problem and have a discussion about it, out in the open sometime. I am talking about Drug Trafficking. This is not a problem which is just on the US southern border, or in Columbia, or in Afghanistan. It is a world wide problem and it has been for a very long time (remember something called “The Opium Wars”?).

The headline that caught my eye and prompted today’s blog is about three Philippine nationals convicted of drug trafficking in China and executed by lethal injection last week. They were arrested separately in 2008 carrying packages of at least four kilograms of heroin to China.

Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda issued a statement after receiving news of the executions. Expressing sympathy to the families of the three, Lacierda said: "Their deaths are a vivid lesson in the tragic toll the drug trade takes on entire families." He said the government will act strongly to combat drug syndicates. "We are resolved to ensure that the chain of victimization, as pushers entrap and destroy lives in pursuit of their trade, will be broken," he said.

Jejomar Binay, Philippine Vice President said: “We believe these Filipinos were merely victims of trans-national drug syndicates. They were just duped into their crimes…”

But there were other opinions being expressed about the executions. Ramon Tulfo, a prominent multi-media commentator in Manila, had a different view. "We have a lot of things to cry over, so let's not waste our tears on three convicted criminals who brought shame to our country," Tulfo wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "If we continue to plead for (their lives), we might give the impression that our country is a haven of drug mules. Let's allow the Chinese people to carry out their harsh antidrug trafficking law, as we would expect them to carry out ours in case Chinese (are) caught trying to smuggle drugs into our country." Tulfo then went on to aske the government to investigate how the three managed to smuggle illegal drugs through security checks in the Philippines, saying if anyone else was involved they "should be ferreted out and sent to prison."

I usually write to either warn about Chinese military expansion or too criticize some action they have taken but this time I am prone to agree with them about drugs. China maintains that drug trafficking is a serious offense and it imposes strict punishment on those convicted of the crime. Under Chinese laws, trafficking of 50 grams or more of drugs is punishable by long prison terms. Those convicted of smuggling larger amounts receive life sentences or death.

The death penalty is usually imposed by local courts and subject to review by the Supreme People's Court, which makes final judgment. In recent years, China has also executed drug traffickers from Britain, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan.

This is apparently a much bigger problem in that part of the world that we knew. As of October 21, 2010, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila, there are more than 70 Filipinos in China who were convicted and sentenced to death for drug trafficking. Only six of the cases have reached the Supreme People's Court. Two were overturned, one is still under review and three were affirmed and carried out last week.

According to diplomats who interviewed them, the accused were "drug mules" recruited by trans-national drug syndicates to act as couriers. Quite often they are promised "courier fees" ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. This happens to many people who are desperate to get quick money.

It is not confined to China and the Phillipines. Drugs and Drug Trafficking is wht is tearing Mexico apart. Drug money (opium) is fueling the Talliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Money from drugs sold here in the US regularly winds up in the pockets of Hemos and other terrorist organizations. More importantly, I have personally seen to many good people who ruined ther lives because of drugs.

This is the ongoing and quiet problem we all know about and never have time to discuss except in passing. It is the uncomfortable truth that we are all affected by drugs and the drug traffickers. So, what do we do? What can we do? I don’t know but I think it is time to discuss it and make it a bigger priority. What I do know is that the US government has been fighting “the war” for years and from what I see in the headlines –they are losing.

Live Long and Prosper....

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