Mexican diplomats trying to help three people arrested in Calgary last Saturday on cocaine smuggling charges say they are being thwarted by Canadian bureaucracy.
“We haven’t been able to find out whether they are Mexicans or not,” said Mexican consul-general Guadalupe Albert in Vancouver.
“If they are Mexicans, they will have the protection accordingly. They haven’t contacted us — neither the three, not the police nor the government.”
Ricardo Rangel Corona, 45, of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Evelia Barreto Robles, 27, of Talpa De Alcende; and JCQC (the accused), 28, residing in Calgary, appeared in provincial court Thursday charged with importing a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Customs officials seized 60.4 kilograms of cocaine valued at $12 million on the street from luggage at Calgary International Airport Saturday.
Corona and Robles were arrested after flying to Calgary from Puerto Vallarta via Dallas-Fort Worth.
The three return to court on Friday with their lawyers.
The language barrier may prove to be a difficulty. Only one of the men speaks English, but very little.
Judge Anton Demong on Thursday appointed interpreter Penelope Waters to aid Corona and Robles in finding a lawyer.
Lawyer Patrick Fagan is acting as agent for the accused, who was arrested in Calgary after the seizure. “I believe (the accused) is entirely innocent with what happened with the seizure,” Fagan said outside court. “We have to find out what the precise nature of the allegations is. I don’t think the disclosure is entirely consistent with what transpired.”
His client had not received consular access, he said. “We just got the names, the notice from the newspaper,” said Mexican consular official Laura Quintanilla in Vancouver.
“We have been trying to get in touch with (Calgary officials), but in Canada it’s voice mail after voice mail after voice mail after voice mail.
“I have a never-ending list of names, but none of them ever calls me back. We have been trying to track them, but it’s impossible to get in touch.”
Foreign Affairs spokesman Reynald Doiron said the department would have no involvement with the trio unless a complaint were laid with the protocol division by the embassy. “We look after our citizens abroad; we don’t look after other citizens of other countries,” he said. It would be their consul general in Vancouver that would approach their citizens and tell them they are aware of their arrest.”
RCMP Staff Sgt. Birnie Smith said he is sure the three had been informed of their consular rights on arrest.
While the Mexicans have not received consular access under the Vienna Convention, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy had demanded the same for two Albertans detained in Yugoslavia a month ago.
Under the Vienna Convention, foreign nationals arrested in other countries have the right to consular access.
Axworthy summoned Yugoslav Ambassador to Canada Pavle Todorovic Aug. 4 to demand consular access to Shaun Going, 45, and Liam Hall, 19, under the Vienna Convention after they were arrested on the Serbian-Montenegrin border on espionage and terrorism charges.
They remain in a Belgrade jail.