A former police officer who was caught smuggling 126.4kg of heroin into Pingtung County last year has been found guilty of drug trafficking by the Pingtung District Court and sentenced to life in prison.
Wen Chun-lung (溫俊龍) received the harsh sentence due to the seriousness of the crime, and because he had a greater responsibility to understand and uphold the law as a former police officer, the Oct. 27 court ruling said.
Heroin, morphine, opium and cocaine are classified in Taiwan as category 1 narcotics, and under the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防治條例), offenders caught manufacturing, transporting or selling such drugs are subject to the death penalty or life imprisonment.
The case dates back to March last year when the coast guard in Kaohsiung received a tip about drug smugglers using fishing trawlers to transport illicit drugs.
After a four-month investigation, authorities boarded a vessel off the coast of the Hengchun Peninsula in Pingtung County at about 2am on July 24.
A thorough inspection of the vessel uncovered five sacks of heroin weighing 126.435kg, and the ship’s captain, Lin Tse-fu (林澤富), was arrested.
Wen, Lin and four others were indicted in August last year on charges related to drug smuggling.
Wen denied heading the operation and said he was simply a hired hand. However, prosecutors said that he had played a principal role in funding and planning the transport of the drugs.
Pingtung prosecutors said that the drugs originated in Myanmar and were transported to a port in Vietnam before being put on a Taiwanese fishing vessel.
The heroin was estimated to have a market value of NT$3 billion (US$107.6 million).
Of the five other suspects, three were found guilty of drug smuggling, including Lin, and received sentences ranging from 12 to 14 years in jail, while the other two were acquitted due to a lack of evidence, the court ruled.
The ruling can be appealed.
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