China sentences Canadian to death for drug operation

A court in southern China has handed down sentences to at least six foreigners involved in a global methamphetamine operation, including a Canadian sentenced to death.

Canadian is ID'd as Fan Wei, but unclear whether it's a legal name

In southern China, a court sentenced a Canadian and at least five other foreigners for their involvement in a global methamphetamine operation. The Canadian, identified as Fan Wei, was sentenced to death. (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

A court in southern China has handed down sentences to at least six foreigners involved in a global methamphetamine operation, including a Canadian given the death penalty.

The Jiangmen Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday sentenced 11 people, including an American and four Mexicans, who produced more than 63 kilograms of the illegal drug. 

The Canadian was identified as Fan Wei, but it was unclear whether that's a legal name.

A person identified as Wu Ziping was also sentenced to death; the court did not give Wu's nationality.

Fan and Wu were the only two to receive the death penalty, according to CNN.

The sentence is likely to further strain relations between Canada and China. Canada arrested a Chinese tech executive last December at the request of the U.S., and since then China has detained two Canadians and delayed some Canadian exports in apparent retaliation.

Death penalty 'cruel and inhumane,' Freeland says

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland condemned the penalty.

"We're very concerned by this sentence," she said Tuesday morning. "Canada stands firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty everywhere around the world. We think that this is a cruel and inhumane punishment which should not be used in any country.

"We are obviously particularly concerned when it is applied to Canadians."

According to the court, Fan and Wu conspired to manufacture and sell the drugs in 2012, and brought the others — described as "drug-making technicians" — on board. Between July and November of that year, the court says, the group set up a "den" in Guangdong's Taishan city, where they produced and sold more than 63 kilograms of methamphetamine and 365.9 grams of dimethyl amphetamine.

A court employee reached by phone declined to give further details.

Global Affairs Canada said Canadian officials have been following the case and providing consular assistance to Fan and his family since he was first detained in 2012. Canadian officials also attended the April 30, 2019 verdict and sentencing.

"We call on China to grant clemency for Mr. Fan," said spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé.

"It is of extreme concern to our government that China has chosen to apply the death penalty, a cruel and inhumane punishment."

GAC is providing no further details, citing privacy issues.

In a separate drug-smuggling case, China sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death in a sudden retrial in January — one month after Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained on vague national security allegations. The moves were widely seen as punishment for Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom company Huawei.

Freeland did not say Tuesday whether she believes the latest death sentence is in retaliation for the arrest of Meng.

China has also suspended the licence of two major Canadian canola exporters, alleging officials discovered hazardous organisms in canola seed shipments.

With files from CBC News