Myanmar Court Set to Issue Warrant for US Man Who Failed to Attend Court in Cannabis Case

By Zarni Mann 16 January 2020

MANDALAY – Myingyan District Court in Mandalay Region is planning to issue an arrest warrant for a US citizen who went missing amid charges that he operated a marijuana plantation.

John Fredric Todoroki, 63, was arrested in April 2019 along with two residents who are working for III M Global Nutraceutical Company at the Myotha industrial park in Myingyan for allegedly growing marijuana.

He was granted bail in July as he was suffering from respiratory and lung problems. The bail was set at 300 million kyats (US$203,000).

After he was granted bail, in November the lawyers requested the Mandalay Regional Court review the case and drop the charges as the company had official approval from the Mandalay regional government to grow industrial hemp and the seeds had been legally imported.

The regional court returned the case to the Myingyan court in December for hearings to continue.

The court’s spokeswoman said on Tuesday that Todoroki failed to attend court.

“He has failed to present to the court. If he fails to attend the session on Jan. 27, the court will issue an arrest warrant and keep the bail money,” said Daw Tin Than.

The bail is due to be paid by Todoroki’s friend, U Khin Maung Win, who signed the assurance at the court.

The defendant’s lawyers said they had lost contact with their client and did not know where he was. They said they had contacted the US Embassy in their attempts to locate Todoroki.

“We lost contact with him in November. Now we are trying every possible way,” said the lawyer U Thein Than Oo.

Todoroki was arrested with Ko Shane Latt, 37, and Ma Shunlae Myat Noe, 23, on April 24, and a Facebook post at the time alleged that they were cannabis growers.

About 24 hectares were used for the plantation, leased from Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development Public Co. Ltd (MMID) by III M Global Nutraceutical Company.

After their arrest, the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC) said it was responsible for the III M Global Nutraceutical plantation.

The CCDAC announced that more than 300,000 marijuana plants, 380 kg of marijuana seeds, formic acid, acetone, acetonitrile solution, methanol and 271 kg of dried cannabis were seized.

The military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs announced on the same day that investigators found hemp-like plants and chemicals. It said the plantation was believed to have been planted for medical use to treat cancer.

The US Embassy in Yangon was not available for comment on Thursday.