Two Canadians get life sentence in Philippines over illegal drugs

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  • A Metro Manila regional court has sentenced to life imprisonment two Canadians over illegal drug charges.

    The two Canadians are believed to have links with a Mexican drug cartel, and they were arrested for possession of $20 million worth of illegal drugs in 2014.

    On February 28, 2018, the regional court in Makati City imposed life sentences on James Riach and Ali Memar Mortrazavi Shirazi.

    Riach is said to be a member of the Independent Soldiers gang in British Columbia, Canada.

    Riach and Shirazi were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violating the country’s Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

    The court also ordered Riach and Shirazi to pay a fine of $10,000 each for possession of $20 million worth of cocaine, Ecstasy tablets and shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride (crystal meth).

    Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested the two Canadians in a sting operation involving P100 worth of illegal drugs in Makati on January 8, 2014.

    Follow-up operations led to the recovery of a big stash of illegal drugs including Ecstasy tablets, cocaine and shabu inside two units occupied by the Canadians in a luxury condo in Makati.

    The NBI agents were armed with a search warrant issued by a Makati regional court following reports that the Canadians belonged to a notorious Mexican drug cartel that wanted to expand its operations in Southeast Asia.

    During the trial, the accused claimed they were legitimate businessmen.

    The two Canadians also claimed that the assorted drugs seized from their condominium units were planted by the raiding team.

    The court ruled that the evidence recovered from the Canadians was “substantial and not common substances to assume them to be planted evidence”.

    Riach survived a targeted shooting in August 2011 in Kelowna, B.C. that killed gangster Jonathan Bacon.

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