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Taiwan hands down life sentence to Malaysian drug smugglers

03/16/2024 09:01 PM
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Customs officers and their K-9 units work together to sniff out potential illegal products in this CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only
Customs officers and their K-9 units work together to sniff out potential illegal products in this CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only

Taichung, March 16 (CNA) A Malaysian couple has been sentenced to life imprisonment for smuggling 14 kilograms of heroin into Taiwan in 2023, according to the Taichung District Court.

According to the verdict, issued on March 12, the couple, Au Wing Cheong (歐文昌) and Ling Mei Chi (林美琪), had agreed to transport heroin for their accomplices in Malaysia, who were to pay 1,700 Malaysian riggits (US$361.36) for their travel expenses and another 5,000 riggits when they finished the job.

The verdict indicated that Au and Ling picked up two suitcases from their accomplices outside a hotel in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on July 13, 2023 before heading to Taiwan.

The heroin were apparently hidden inside the packaging of a Malaysian gelatin powder product and placed among other kinds of foods and snacks as covers inside the suitcases.

Au and Ling then took the suitcases to board a July 14 plane from Kuala Lumpur to Vietnam where they then took a transfer flight to Taichung International Airport the same day.

When the couple was going through customs clearance, Taiwanese officers detected the heroin in their suitcases, which led to their arrest by the Investigation Bureau.

While the couple denied any knowledge of the drugs, claiming that they were told by their accomplices that they were only helping to deliver Malaysian souvenirs, a judicial panel in the Taichung District Court dismissed Au and Ling's testimonies after combing through their communication history.

Due to the potential threat the smuggled heroin could bring to Taiwan's people, the court sentenced the couple to life in prison under Taiwan's Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act, according to the court.

Alongside the likes of cocaine and opium, the drug is classified as a Category 1 narcotic in Taiwan, which subjects offenders to the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Both Au and Ling may still appeal the case.

(By Su Mu-chun and James Lo)

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