In what prosecutors called a drug smuggling conspiracy between Mennonites and a Mexican drug cartel, a man on Monday was sentenced to 15 months in prison for aiding the movement of tons of marijuana to the US.
Mennonite Christians have historical ties to the Amish, radical Protestant reformers originally known as Anabaptists who adopted pacifism and fled persecution in central Europe for North America. Some conservative Mennonite communities still wear traditional dress and avoid modern technologies.
Abraham Friesen-Remple was sentenced in US District Court for the District of Colorado in Denver to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of marijuana. A US federal judge said he would likely be released later in the day because of time already served.
Prosecutors said he played a minor role as a driver, helping the Juarez cartel — based in the US-Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua — smuggle drugs in the gas tanks of cars and inside farm equipment.
Friesen-Remple was one of seven people indicted, all but one of whom are members of a Mexican Mennonite community in Chihuahua.
Prosecutors also say the Mennonites also grew marijuana for the cartel.
The investigation involved wiretaps in which 32,200 calls were recorded in Spanish and a German dialect used by Mennonites.
Authorities said the operation moved to North Carolina after the arrest of a person who ran a Colorado auto body shop involved in the case.
Court records show Friesen-Remple delivered a shipment of marijuana — hidden in a farm bulldozer — to a home in Shelby, North Carolina. US Drug Enforcement Agency agents tapped his telephone and learned that he was getting directions from someone in Mexico.
The following month, a fellow member of the alleged drug ring, who became a cooperating witness, told agents that Friesen-Remple delivered the 714kg of cannabis that agents found during a search of his home, according to court records.
Friesen-Remple was arrested on Aug. 20 last year, at the Santa Testa Point of Entry in New Mexico. He pleaded guilty to using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of marijuana.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference