Federal prosecutors want to drop all U.S. charges against a Chinese-Mexican businessman accused of importing large amounts of methamphetamines to the United States.
At a hearing Monday, prosecutors told a federal judge that problems with the case against Zhenli Ye Gon were behind their request to dismiss the charges.
"This is very serious," responded U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan. "This man has essentially been in solitary confinement.... Someone at the Department of Justice better have a very good answer."
Prosecutors said there were problems with evidence against Ye Gon. They told the judge that a key witness has recanted some past statements and another witness refuses to testify.
Mexican authorities seized more than $205 million in U.S. drug profits from Ye Gon's Mexico City mansion in March 2007.
Ye Gon was arrested by U.S. authorities in July 2007 in Wheaton, Md.
Mexican prosecutors say Ye Gon allegedly built the fortune by dealing in pseudoephedrine, the precursor chemical for methamphetamines.
His wife, Tomoiyi Marx Yu, has been ordered to stand trial in Mexico on charges of using the illicit funds. Marx Yu has said she did not know about the money, which was found hidden in a sealed-off room.