or the second time this year, a Canadian citizen has been sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking.
Canadian Fan Wei has been described as one of the leaders of an 11-member drug gang which produced and sold 64 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and 366 grams of dimethylamphetamine between July and November 2012 in the Guangdong city of Taishan.
An intermediate court in Guangdong’s Jiangmen city sentenced him to death along with a Chinese gang leader named Wu Ziping. Five other foreign members of the group, one American (named Mark) and four Mexicans (Leon, Pedro, Oscar, and Carrett) were given either suspended death sentences or life imprisonment. Four Chinese gang members (Zeng Xiangliang, Li Rongfu, Liao Jianming, and Liu Zhimin) were said to have played only minor roles in the organization and given unspecified jail terms.
While the gang was detained in 2012 and put on trial a year later, the court only reached a verdict on Tuesday.
This sentencing comes after a Canadian man named Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was given the death penalty for drug smuggling by a court in Liaoning province earlier this month. Only two months before, the same court had sentenced Schellenberg to 15 years in prison.
However, that initial sentencing was deemed too lenient by state prosecutors and the High People’s Court of Liaoning province ordered a retrial. The timing of all of this was seen as suspect by many, coming after Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US, sparking outrage from Beijing which soon detained two Canadian nationals on suspicion of “engaging in activities harming national security.”
China is known for handing out harsh sentences for drug crimes including the death penalty when substantial amounts of illicit substances are involved. Foreigners have been executed before in China for drug smuggling including aPakistani-British businessmanin 2009 who some argued had been tricked into smuggling heroin. While the official numbers are a state secret, China is believed to execute more people each year than the rest of the world’s countries combined.
Following Schellenberg’s re-sentencing, Canada updated its travel advisory for China, warning Canadians to exercise a “high degree of caution” due to “the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”