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Three brothers, Jose Regino, Luis and Simon Gonzalez Villarreal, natives of Culiacan, Sinaloa, may soon become the next foreigners to be executed by hanging in the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia.

Malaysia’s drug laws are severe and a mandatory death sentence is the punishment if convicted of violating its strict laws against drug trafficking. Under Malaysia anti-drug laws any person found in possession of at least 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin, 200 grams (7 ounces) of marijuana, 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of cocaine and 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of methamphetamine is presumed by law to be a drug trafficker.

The three men are accused of being part of the Sinaloa cartel and members of an international network for the production and distribution of methamphetamine in Southeast Asia.

The three were arrested together with a Malaysian and a Singaporean in March 4, 2008 at a secluded factory in the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia’s southern Johor state where police found a drug laboratory and approximately 240 kilograms of methamphetamine. The lab was believed to have been operating for about six months before the raid.

(The amount of methamphetamine seized varies widely. El Noroeste, a newspaper in Sinaloa, Mexico reports the men were found in possession of 240 kilograms while the Houston Chronicle says the amount was 29 kilograms worth $15 million)

The other two accused are Lim Hung Wang, a Singaporean, and Lee Boon Siah, a Malaysian.

All five were charged with drug trafficking and face the mandatory penalty of death by hanging if convicted. The Gonzalez brothers have been held in a maximun security prison near the border with Singapore since their arrest in 2008.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is scheduled to hear defense lawyers present their case April 27, said prosecutor Umar Saifuddin Jaafar. The judge hearing the case, Judge Mohd Zawawi, is known for his strict adherence to the law and in recent years has condemned more than 30 people to the gallows.

The High Court ruled last month it was unreasonable to conclude that it was a mere coincidence that the Mexican brothers were at the factory during the raid, according to Umar Saifuddin. At the time the brothers were in Malaysia on tourist visas.

If the defense attorneys are unable to convince the judge of the brothers innocence in April, they will be convicted and sentenced to death.

Kitson Foong, a lawyer for the three brothers, who has been on the case since January, sent a plea to the Mexican media for help after his attempts to request assistance from the Mexican Embassy were unsuccessful.

Noting that his clients are in real danger of dying, the lawyer has urged that a translator be sent help prepare the defense. “Until now the embassy has not contacted them or me,” he said.

If the defense attorneys are unable to convince the judge of the brothers innocence in April, they will be convicted and sentenced to death.

The Mexicans’ other brother, Jose Gonzalez Villarreal, has urged their country’s government to help them, saying the family has only spoken to the three suspects twice since their arrest and have little knowledge of developments in the case.

“My parents are in despair over the situation,” he said in a telephone interview from the western city of Culiacan. “We really haven’t been able to do anything because of our lack of resources. We are poor people.”

The three brothers have no criminal record in Mexico, according to Martin Gatelum, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office of the western state of Sinaloa, a major drug trafficking hub and the cradle of a powerful Mexican cartel of the same name.

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2011/03/3-sinaloa-cartel-members-face-death.html

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