By: Lauly Li
TAIPEI: A Frenchman was yesterday sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison by the Taipei District Court for trafficking 1.3 kilograms of heroin into Taiwan.
The French national, who has been identified by Taiwanese authorities as Eric Jacobs, this April attempted to carry the heroin from Thailand to Taiwan and reportedly handed the drug to a local drug dealer surnamed Chen. Jacobs received US$10,000 in exchange for carrying the heroin into the nation, the court said.
According to investigators, a drug dealer in Bangkok identified as “Dana,” allegedly hid the 1.3-kilograms of heroin in a backpack and handed it to Jacobs, who lives and teaches English in Thailand, on April 8. The Frenchman took a flight to Taiwan the same day and checked into a hotel in downtown Taipei. A Taiwanese drug dealer nicknamed “Beard” allegedly instructed Chen, who belongs to the same drug ring as Beard, to meet up with Jacobs at the hotel.
The Investigation Bureau and the Military Police Command jointly formed a taskforce upon receiving tip-offs regarding the deal and arrested Chen after he had met with Jacobs and was meeting his daughter near Taipei Main Station. Investigators discovered the backpack containing the 1.3-kilograms of heroin — which has been estimated to be worth NT$60 million. Investigators later arrested Jacobs, discovering the US$10,000 payment he received for trafficking the heroin.
The court said Jacobs frequently travels around countries in Southeast Asia and had been teaching English before being lured by the drug ring. The Taipei District Court said that considering both suspects admitted to their crimes, it issued them each with prison terms of 15 years and eight months. The court also declared that Jacobs is to be deported once he fulfills his prison term.
The Investigation Bureau said it discovered that over the past few years, international drug rings have recruited more backpackers from Europe and the U.S. to traffic drugs into Taiwan, mainly due to the positive profiles people of those nationalities often have in the eyes of border control and customs officers.
The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) in May also arrested a 43-year-old Taiwanese suspect and a 61-year-old British suspect on suspicion of drug trafficking.
The Taiwanese suspect, surnamed Liao, allegedly imported drugs via a transnational drug trafficking ring, and the British suspect allegedly carried the drugs from Cambodia and handed the items to Liao in a five-star hotel in downtown Taipei, the CIB said.
The CIB further discovered that Liao purchased drugs from a drug ring based in Cambodia, where drug dealers would “arrange” for foreign nationals to carry the drugs into Taiwan.