A Mexican judge will soon determine whether Shohn Huckabee, a US citizen from western Texas, will serve out his 5 year drug trafficking sentence in a cell south of the border.
Huckabee claims it's all a setup by corrupt Mexican authorities, and that he has been tortured. Mexican police say he's undoubtedly guilty.
It all started in December 2010 when Huckabee, 24, and his friend Carlos Quijas, 36, were imprisoned by the Mexican military for allegedly attempting to whisk 100 lbs of marijuana across the US-Mexico border. Mexican police subsequently charged them with intent to sell, and sentenced each man to 5 years in prison.
For his part, Huckabee claims the whole thing is a setup. He says the first time he saw the marijuana he allegedly intended to smuggle across the border was when he was already in Mexican custody. Three witness have apparently corroborated that testimony -- but one of them was killed before trial, and the other two disappeared.
Huckabee had no prior record of involvement with drugs before his arrest at the border. His story -- that he entered Mexico to have his truck fixed cheaply -- has been verified by the mechanic who did the work. Cell phone records corroborate his timeline of events, and seem to contradict the account of Mexican authorities who arrested him.
On top of all that, Huckabee claims the Mexican military brutalized him, even leveling allegations of torture. According to the Wall Street Journal, Huckabee stated:
"I believe what was done to me was torture. When I did not answer their questions, they shocked me with a wire that was in my hands. My whole body froze up. The pain went from bearable to a point where I couldn't even talk."
These allegations of inhumane treatment at the hands of Mexican authorities are consistent with other allegations. The WSJ claims to have interviewed nine individuals, some convicted of crimes, who also allege torture at the hands of Mexican authorities, including a man who claimed the authorities used a taser on his testicles. He apparently showed the WSJ reporter the scars.
As for Huckabee's Mexican defense team- at this point he has been through at least five lawyers, one of whom was shot last year, but survived. None of the first five lawyers spoke any English.
Currently, civil liberties lawyer Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson has taken up Huckabee's cause. This would appear to be good news for the defense, as De la Rosa's office is responsible for putting seven federales in prison, along with three local police for "disappearing" people, and is pushing two open cases of federal police homicide.
Huckabee will need all the help he can get. Time is reporting that:
"His co-defendant and friend Carlos Quijas was recently transferred to Islas Maria, the notorious penal colony off the Pacific Coast of Mexico, on the other side of the country. Shohn says neither he nor Quijas' family have heard from him since the transfer."
The decision of the Mexican court on Huckabee's final appeal should come next week.
In anticipation of the pending decision, check out this Transparency International rating of Mexico's corruption. A little better than Haiti, but worse than Cuba.