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Local case draws Canadian interest
By Tona Kunz Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted 8/5/2004 
Canada plans to throw its two cents into a Kane County drug trafficking case involving one of its citizens.

Officials at the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago said they were never notified when Thi Kim Phuong Huynh, 33, of Toronto was arrested in Geneva.

Had they been contacted, consulate officials would have told her not to speak without an attorney.

Instead, Huynh had to maneuver a foreign legal system alone.

"I don't think, No. 1, she understood her rights or could waive them," said Kathleen Colton, a Batavia attorney who eventually was retained to defend Huynh. "It's clear she didn't know what Miranda rights are or how to get a lawyer."

Colton has filed a motion with the court stating Huynh's rights were violated because of a failure to notify the consulate, which violates the Vienna Conventions. She plans to argue the point in court Friday where Huynh faces charges of drug trafficking.

Huynh was arrested March 26, 2003, for allegedly selling an undercover FBI agent 4,500 pills in a nail salon in the 1400 block of Commons Drive in Geneva. According to court documents, Huynh had another 100 pills on her. Prosecutors allege that Huynh and Hoahicp Hoang Nguyen, 28, of Mishawaka, Ind., brought the drugs down from Detroit and met up with My Hanh T. Nguyen, 35, of St. Charles and Ryan Do, 23, of Berwyn.

Nguyen and Do are being charged in federal court.

According to police reports, the state police who arrested Huynh back in March knew she was a foreign national, but failed to call Canadian officials, said Tony Brown, senior counselor program officer.

The U.S. Department of State has published a guide to consulate notification for local and state officials that makes it the responsibility of the arresting officers to determine whether someone is a foreign national and notify a consulate if it's required by that country or requested by the person.

Brown said his office didn't know about the arrest until months later when Huynh called the consulate in July.

The consulate leaves it up to attorneys to argue whether the failure to notify a consulate voids any statements or constitutes an illegal arrest.

According to the state department, some foreign nationals have sought new trials, sentencing hearings or excessive clemency orders based on notification failure. Brown said he's never seen it work in his territory of Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, but it has succeeded elsewhere.

"It's a good ploy, and it could work," he said.