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Ecuador president proposes pardons for low-level drug couriers

Ecuador president proposes pardons for low-level drug couriers

Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa proposed Saturday pardoning the lengthy jail sentences of low-level drug couriers known as "mules" and drafting new laws that better reflect the severity of drug crimes.
In his weekly radio address, Correa said he will ask a special assembly drafting a new Ecuadorean constitution to pardon the couriers. He said sentencing them to more than 10 years in prison for carrying as little as 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cocaine is "absurd."
The assembly has taken on legislative powers after suspending the nation's Congress last month. Correa allies control more than 60 percent of the assembly.
Ecuador's current drug laws, which Correa said were drafted under pressure from the U.S., do not differentiate between big-time traffickers and the low-level bagmen who smuggle drugs for them. So-called mules often swallow or carry small amounts of drugs across borders for money.
The current law "treats as the same the boss of the Cali cartel and a poor unemployed single mother who dared to carry 300 grams of drugs," Correa said. "It's a barbarity."
He did not say how many low-level drug couriers could be pardoned if the legislation were approved.
Ecuador produces virtually no coca, the key ingredient in cocaine, but is often used as a transit country for drugs sent from neighboring Colombia and Peru _ the world's top two cocaine producers _ to the United States.
Earlier this year, Correa acknowledged that his father, who died when Correa was 9, was jailed for three years in the United States for carrying drugs.


Updated : 2021-04-10 20:00 GMT+08:00