Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cash on the Barrelhead

It's easy to poke fun at Mexico's "justice system" - we do it all the time; for instance, using scare quotes around the worlds justice system, or pointing out that neither word really applies to the way the accused are handled here. But, Christ weeping Jesus, what the hell is wrong with the US Justice Department prosecutors? Fresh off dropping all the charges against one of the most crooked men ever to earn the title "Senator," the same team, up in front of the same judge, is trying to drop all the charges against Zhenli Ye Gon.

Gon, who was born in Shanghai, lived in Mexico and ran a large pharmaceuticals company. Authorities allege that the company was a front that supplied Mexican drug cartels with massive quantities of a chemical used to make the street drug methamphetamine. Gon has expressed concerns about being tried in Mexico and accused authorities of planting "fraudulently fabricated evidence" at his mansion.

By "evidence," Gon means more than $207 million in cash found in his Mexico City mansion. Really, we can see the cops dropping a bag of coke or even a loaded handgun into the guy's closet, but $207 million cash? This sorta seems like a slam-dunk case. Unless, of course, prosecutors decided to break the rules for no apparent reason, thus handing the defense a get-out-of-jail-free card. Oh, look:

At a recent hearing, [Judge] Sullivan expressed irritation with prosecutors for not turning over evidence quickly to Gon's defense lawyers about a key witness who had recanted earlier statements.

In court papers filed yesterday, prosecutors cited the recantation and another witness who has "expressed an unwillingness to testify" as reasons for seeking the dismissal of Gon's charges.

At a brief hearing yesterday, Sullivan again scolded prosecutors for not telling him or defense lawyers earlier about the witness problems, which the Justice Department learned about months ago.

Sullivan ordered Justice Department officials to file court papers by Wednesday explaining why it took them so long to disclose the information. The judge indicated that he would grant the government's dismissal request but hadn't decided whether to toss the case "with prejudice," meaning the Justice Department could not bring it again.

After a private conference at his bench with prosecutors and defense lawyers, Sullivan said he was "not pleased at all by anything I've heard from the government."

Sullivan later said government prosecutors "ought to resign" if they did not think they had to comply with rules requiring such evidence to be turned over to defense lawyers. "I want to know why the government is failing to abide by" its obligations to turn over such material, the judge said.

The plan is to send him back to Mexico, where it'll be up to the "justice system" to take care of him.

5 comments:

MexFiles said...

With 207 million in cash laying around, a few million more left in Las Vegas, you can be sure there's a heck of a lot more hidden in U.S. banks and holding companies.

Zenli Gon's claims -- that the 207 Mil was PAN money (specifically from the Calderon campaign) -- may have legs, I don't expect the Mexican judges are any more eager to look into the case than the U.S. judge is.

Anonymous said...

OK. Settle a bet. Is that $207 million a pile of 100's or 20's?

Burro Hall said...

100s, according to the Washington Post article linked to. What do I win?

cynical Mex Files said...

That's not counting the stacks of Euros and pesos, either. One reason for the U.S. prosecution was that the Mexican gov wouldn't buy the DEA's ridiculous claim that they were due part of the loot for "assisting" in taking Ye Gon down... the rationale for claiming assistance being that DEA training manuals were used by the PGR.

The U.S. case never was very good, but keeping Ye Gon out of the Mexican media was all to the Calderon Administration's benefit (and, it made the DEA look like it was actually doing something useful).

editorially challenged Mex Files said...

OOPS!

The U.S. case was NEVER very good...