Asia

Four More US Citizens Wanted in Connection with Mandalay Marijuana Plantation

By Zarni Mann 22 May 2019

MANDALAY—The police have added four more US citizens to the wanted list for having played a role in the marijuana plantation in Myotha Industrial Park, Mandalay Region.

According to the lawyers of the three detainees facing trial under the Anti-Narcotic Law for their ties to the plantation, the police presented the names of the four US citizens to the court in Myinchan during the court session on Tuesday.

At the time of the three April arrests, a fourth person—US citizen Alexander Kemp Todoroki—was also sought for arrest but declared to have gone on the run. His name brings the list of those wanted in connection to the case to five.

“The CEO of III M [Global Nutraceutical Company’s], Martin Chi Cheong Pun and four others are on the wanted list and the police will need to arrest and present them to the court by the next hearing on June 4,” said their lawyer U Thein Than Oo.

Along with III M Global Nutraceutical Company’s CEO Pun, Thomas Zeberlon, Grcoug Mercheius, Douglas Soe Lin and Alexander Kemp Todoroki are now wanted by the police.

“If the police can’t present them to the court, they will declare them (the US citizens) fugitives and send the report to the court so it can proceed with the trial process,” explained the lawyer.

Three company employees—U.S. citizen John Fredric Todoroki, 63, Ko Shane Latt, 37, and Ma Shunlae Myat Noe, 23—were arrested on April 24 under the Anti-Narcotics Law for allegedly operating a marijuana plantation in Mandalay Region’s Myotha Industrial Park.

At the first court session at Myinchan District Court on Tuesday, the court accepted the case.

Following information about the alleged marijuana plantation being widely circulated among Myanmar netizens on Facebook in April, the three detainees were arrested in connection with the plantation.

After their arrest in April, the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC) announced that the three are responsible for the marijuana plantation at the 20-acre plantation of III M Global Nutraceutical, located in Myotha Industrial Park of Myinchan District, Mandalay Division.

The CCDAC’s announcement also stated that over 300,000 marijuana plants, 380 kilograms of marijuana seeds, formic acid, acetone, acetonitrile concort water, methanol liquid, 270.5 kilograms of dried marijuana and other related chemicals and materials were seized.

However, on the same day, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the investigation team actually found hemp-like plants believed to have the same content as marijuana, some chemicals and materials and that the plantation is believed to have been planted for medical purposes.

About 60 acres of land for plantation were leased from Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development PLC by III M Global Nutraceutical.

“There are weakness in our Burmese Anti-Narcotics Law. The law only mentions cannabis, not the specific features or the species of it. However, internationally, these plants are industrial hemp which could benefit farmers,” said lawyer U Thein Than Oo.

“It would be better if credible research could be done on those plants. Otherwise, the detainees, especially Ko Shane Latt and Ma Shunlae Myat Noe who are only interns, will be the ones who suffer because they have no responsibility for the plantation,” he added.

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