Jailed Americans in Mexico Lose Final Appeal

By Dirk Hanson 07/08/11

Attorneys say drugs were planted in their truck, and claim the two men were tortured by Mexican soldiers.

Drug runners or pawns in the game?
Photo via morrisonworldnews

They have three years remaining on a five-year sentence. Shohn Huckabee and Carlos Quijas of El Paso were stopped by Mexican soldiers in 2009 for driving through Ciudad Juarez with two suitcases full of marijuana in their truck. 110 pound’s worth. Their tough luck, right? In every business, there’s an element of risk. But the two men say they were questioned at a remote location, then handed over to civilian authorities and eventually found guilty of intent to sell. The Los Angeles Times said that the two men, plus three witnesses, deny possessing any marijuana until the federales planted it in their car, and say they were tortured as well. And now a Mexican federal court has turned down their final appeal.

We’re in no position to make a call on this case, but a few related facts are of interest: According to Daniel Hernandez, reporting for the Los Angeles Times from Mexico City, “Ciudad Juarez has the sad distinction of being the site of the worst drug-related violence in Mexico as well as one of the largest concentrations of human rights abuse claims against security forces.” That does tend to throw a slightly different light on the matter. Huckabee’s father Kevin said that a number of inmates at the Juarez prison with similar cases had been released with pending appeal reviews before federal magistrates. Attorneys are working on a transfer to a U.S. prison, but prospects are uncertain. Kevin Huckabee told the Hernandez that he intends to “actively protest against Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s administration and accusations of human-rights abuses made against the Mexican army since Calderón took office.”

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]