From The New York Times:
Click the link and read this whole article. It is bizarre. An Evergreen State student turned narco-terrorist turned drug peddler in southwest China turned Chinese prison inmate.
Image of Dali from travelmarket.com
DALI, China — Justin Franchi Solondz, an environmental activist from New Jersey who spent years evading charges of ecoterrorism in the United States by hiding out in China, was sentenced to three years in prison by a local court on Friday on charges of manufacturing drugs in this backpacker haven.
After serving his time, Mr. Solondz, 30, who is on the F.B.I.’s wanted list, will be deported to the United States, where he faces charges stemming from what the authorities say was his role in an arson rampage that destroyed buildings in three western states as a member of a group related to the environmental extremist organization Earth Liberation Front. He was indicted in absentia in 2006.
The story of Mr. Solondz’s life on the lam spanned three continents, involved at least two aliases and ended in a smoky bar in one of the world’s most authoritarian countries.
Mr. Solondz’s journey started in the fall of 2005, when he joined his mother in Italy for a wedding and then traveled around Europe and Asia. His parents say he stopped communicating with them in March 2006, just before the F.B.I. announced the charges.
The trail went cold until March 2009, when the Chinese police arrested Mr. Solondz here in the mountains of Yunnan Province after he was caught with drugs and fake Canadian identification, according to his parents. During a daylong trial last month, Mr. Solondz pleaded guilty to drug charges and asked to be deported to the United States.
I've been to Dali. I went there with my friend, Joseph, in the summer of '06 (sounds like I just missed Mr. Solondz). I'd heard all sorts of things about the place. Most of them did, indeed, turn out to be true. It's a different world there; a true hippie paradise. I was horribly sick my whole time there battling giardiasis so I didn't get to see the place as well as I would've liked. But I saw enough to know that it is a one-of-a-kind place in China.
I was shocked that such a place existed in China. I can't imagine that it will much longer though. The article makes it sound like China is on to what goes on in Dali and that authorities aren't going to turn such a blind eye on the place anymore.