Sun, Jan 18, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Drug probe looks at Hualien speaker

DRUG MYSTERY Hualien County Council Speaker Yang Wen-chi convinced others of his innocence in relation to a case last year, but the story isn't over yet

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

When two suspected drug dealers were arrested in Taichung last week, the spotlight turned once again to a controversial figure on the other side of the country -- Hualien County Council Speaker Yang Wen-chi (楊文值).

Last Saturday, officers from the National Police Administration's Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) arrested two Tai-chung men, 45-year-old Chen Hsien-chou and 38-year-old Shen Cheng-hsiung (沈正雄), while they visited friends in Taichung City's Liaoning Road.

The suspects then accused the Hualien speaker of being a drug kingpin and that he had intimate connections to organized crime in the area.

Rumors

Armed with a degree from the Dahan Institute of Technology's Department of Finance, the now 49-year-old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) speaker began his political career in 1990, becoming a county councilor in his hometown, and eventually climbing the ladder to his current post as speaker.

Any number of rumors can be heard on the streets of Hualien about Yang's supposed association with drug dealing, but Hualien County Council Deputy Speaker Lin Lien-ming (林連明) said in his colleague's defense that Yang had expended considerable effort in cultivating a harmonious political environment in Hualien.

"Forget the party he belongs to; he has really achieved a lot for the residents of Hualien and he is always willing to negotiate with politicians from different parties -- as long as it's for the good of the people," Lin said.

A senior county law enforcement official, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Taipei Times that although Yang had nothing to do with drugs, he had been dealing with drug issues, including paying attention to particular cases, over a lengthy period of time.

However, the official said, a number of Yang's friends, including other politicians in the area, had definitely been involved in drug dealing and were currently under investigation.

Drug case

Yang made national front page news for the first time when he was associated with a drug case in Hualien County last year.

On Oct. 14, police received a phone call from a resident of Nanhua, alleging that people were dealing drugs in the area.

Seven officers hurried to the scene, where they arrested Lai Chiao-jung (賴樵榕), but three other suspects evaded arrest.

Police also discovered 28 heroin bricks weighing a total of 10.64kg, estimated to be worth more than NT$100 million, along with a pistol.

The police also discovered that three men -- Lee Wen-chien (李文漧), Chao Chi-chuan (趙啟全) and Chen Ding-chi (陳訂志) -- had been left in a vehicle blindfolded with their hands and feet bound.

Officers suspected that the men were also narcotics dealers and that the bizarre scene was the result of a drug deal that went wrong.

The trio were taken to a police station, but there was apparently insufficient evidence to arrest them.

Yang then arrived at the station and escorted Lee, Chao and Chi to a hospital at their request.

While Yang said he was merely helping his constituents after police approved their release, his political opponents claim he used his position to pressure the officers into letting the three out.

But the senior law enforcement official who spoke to the Taipei Times said this was not true.

"This time, [Yang] was really misunderstood," the official said.

"When he took the three suspects away from the police station, he really didn't know that they were involved in a drug case," he said.

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