Canadians in drug bust fear cartel assassins
Saying a “vicious” Mexican drug cartel had dispatched assassins to go after them, two foreigners arrested in a drug raid last month asked a court on Wednesday to return them to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Canadian James Clayton Riach and Iranian-Canadian Ali Memar Mortazvi Shirazi filed the urgent motion after they were turned over to the Makati City Jail based on the order of Judge Josephine Vito Cruz of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 135.
Riach and Ali, who according to authorities are with the Sinaloa drug cartel—Mexico’s biggest and deadliest drug network—were arrested with their Filipino cohort Gibson Arca in a raid conducted by the NBI on Gramercy Residences, a high-end condominium building in Makati City, on Jan. 15. The trio yielded “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride), cocaine and ecstasy pills.
Magelio Arboladura, lawyer of the accused, cited in their motion an “imminent threat to the life and safety of Riach and Ali.”
“It is widely circulated in the news media that [they] are being linked and connected to the Mexican Sinaloa, a vicious and dangerous Mexican drug cartel, [and that the said drug cartel] has sent two assassins to try and kill Riach and Ali, among others,” he said.
“In fact, the Department of Justice secretary herself confirmed that there are intelligence reports that indeed, two assassins were sent to the Philippines to … liquidate Riach and Ali. By reason of the said intelligence report, the NBI has beefed up, increased and updated the security measures, protocol and men at the detention center to [prevent] Riach and Ali from possibly being liquidated,” he added.
“Further, it is common knowledge that the Makati City Jail is too congested beyond its capacity such that Riach and Ali’s security in the said facility cannot be properly ascertained and secured, hence, a high probability exists that their security, safety and welfare will constantly be under threat not only from outside elements but from their fellow detainees as well who may well be paid to kill them,” the lawyer stressed.
The accused were in the custody of the NBI until they were presented on Wednesday to the Makati court for their arraignment.
The proceeding was deferred, however, because their lawyer had filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case against Ali for lack of probable cause.
The judge gave the prosecution five days to file their comment on the motions and scheduled the next hearing on Feb. 17. Until then, she ordered the NBI to turn over the accused to the custody of the Makati City Jail.
According to the NBI, Riach belongs to the Independent Soldier gang in Canada where he faces murder, weapons and drug charges.
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