Thu, Jan 12, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Canadian admits selling drugs

BAIL DENIED The alleged leader of an international drug smuggling syndicate yesterday admitted possession of 414g of cocaine, 515g of marijuana and hundreds of ecstasy pills

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Canadian former English teacher charged with dealing drugs was denied bail in the Taipei District Court yesterday.

Forand Mathieu James, who has been in police detention since last August, admitted to the court that he had been found in possession of 414g of cocaine, 515g of marijuana and hundreds of ecstasy pills. He also confessed to having sold various drugs in Taiwan from 2003 April until his arrest in August.

The judge said that he denied bail because of the large amount of cocaine that had allegedly been found in James' possession.

However, because James confessed to selling drugs and assisted in clearing up some details in the state's case, he will be allowed to receive visitors in jail, the judge ruled.

James was in tears yesterday as he asked the judge to allow him to see his family.

"My father came from Canada to see me. I ask the court to give me a chance to talk to him," James told the judge.

James said he regretted the crime.

"I apologize to Taiwan," he said.

About 50 of James' friends attended the trial yesterday. Some of them shed tears when James asked the court to let him see his family.

James' father told the Taipei Times after the hearing that he was happy that he would be able to visit his son in jail.

Another defendant in the case, Su Sheng-hsi (蘇聖喜), a Taiwanese American suspected of trading in drugs with James, yesterday denied that he sold drugs.

Su told the court that he had bought drugs from James, and used drugs, but was not a dealer.

Su was also denied bail.

The Coast Guard Administration said it uncovered an international drug smuggling ring based in Neihu (內湖), Taipei, last August.

According to the coast guard, James was the leader of the smuggling operation.

Eight other people, including Taiwanese Americans, as well as people from Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, were also arrested in connection with the drug ring, but were released soon after.

Many of the suspects worked as English teachers.

The coast guard said the ring had smuggled drugs into the country inside textbooks and sold them in pubs and other night spots.

The judge told the Taipei Times after yesterday's hearing that, according to the nation's criminal code, people convicted of selling class one drugs such as cocaine could face life in jail or the death penalty.

However, mitigating factors, such as the full cooperation of the defendant, could lead to a reduced sentence, the judge said.

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