International meth kingpin or persecuted businessman?

In March, Mexican police raided a luxurious mansion in Mexico City, finding $207 million in cash stashed in steel cabinets and hidden inside false walls. The house belonged to suspected drug kingpin Zhenli Ye Gon. During the raid, police arrested Ye Gon’s wife and six relatives.  The Chinese-Mexican pharmaceutical bigwig was accused of illegally importing ...

600360_zhenli_05.jpg
600360_zhenli_05.jpg

In March, Mexican police raided a luxurious mansion in Mexico City, finding $207 million in cash stashed in steel cabinets and hidden inside false walls. The house belonged to suspected drug kingpin Zhenli Ye Gon. During the raid, police arrested Ye Gon's wife and six relatives. 

The Chinese-Mexican pharmaceutical bigwig was accused of illegally importing enough chemicals to manufacture nearly 37 metric tons of methamphetamine with a street value of over $700 million. But Ye Gon didn't stick around to find out what the consequences might be, and he went into hiding.

Later, Ye Gon held a secret news conference in which he constructed a defense of thrilling grandiosity. The money was foisted on him by an associate of Mexican President Felipe Calderon under threat of blackmail, he claimed, to fund "terrorist activities" in case Calderon fell to his challenger in the presidential election.

In March, Mexican police raided a luxurious mansion in Mexico City, finding $207 million in cash stashed in steel cabinets and hidden inside false walls. The house belonged to suspected drug kingpin Zhenli Ye Gon. During the raid, police arrested Ye Gon’s wife and six relatives. 

The Chinese-Mexican pharmaceutical bigwig was accused of illegally importing enough chemicals to manufacture nearly 37 metric tons of methamphetamine with a street value of over $700 million. But Ye Gon didn’t stick around to find out what the consequences might be, and he went into hiding.

Later, Ye Gon held a secret news conference in which he constructed a defense of thrilling grandiosity. The money was foisted on him by an associate of Mexican President Felipe Calderon under threat of blackmail, he claimed, to fund “terrorist activities” in case Calderon fell to his challenger in the presidential election.

On Monday, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officers finally arrested Ye Gon in Silver Spring, Maryland. Agents dragged him away from a meal of codfish and baby carrots—humble fare for a man who once boasted his own fleet of luxury cars and mistresses across the globe.

Of course, in the event that said codfish came from Ye Gon’s home country of China, his timely arrest may have spared him an even worse fate.

Sam duPont is a Master's candidate at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and focused his capstone research on transitional democracies and elections in fragile states.

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