Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

Daniel Diaz Strukov requires our help – false accusation of drug trafficking in Russia

Daniel Diaz Strukov is a Peruvian culture activist and traveler. Currently, he is facing trial after being falsely accused of mescaline, cocaine and DMT trafficking and attempted sale in a particularly large amount. His case is now being considered by a jury and the defendant may face life imprisonment. Dani’s family is presently in dire need of financial aid to defend him.


IBAN: ES84 2100 3017 0322 0097 0419


NIF: G67157289


The circumstances

Two years ago, customs officers twisted Dani’s arms and threw him face down on the floor when he entered the post office to pick up a parcel. “Who are your accomplices?”, “Where is the rest?” and similar questions followed. Dani was astonished because in his mind, the parcel contained a harmless medical decoction (the so-called “dragon’s blood”) sent by his friend from Peru. Without any second thoughts about hiring an attorney, he gave the full story to the extent that he’d known. He was an herbalist who had studied traditional medicine in a Peruvian university and learned from a Peruvian curandero shaman… Later he had begun collecting specimens of jungle plants from Peru’s mountain region and studying their effects. Daniel was absolutely sure that they could cleanse the human body. These plants have been used as medications in Peru for centuries, and some of them are already in use with liscensed pharmacologists. When the police brought Dani to his home late at night on March 3 and started searching the apartment, they found several boxes containing dried fruits, vegetables, plants, blends and powders… At first, they couldn’t believe their eyes, but they then they packed everything away and took Daniel to jail where he is currently awaiting trial.

The accusation

Among other things, the police found 2.7 kilograms of coca leaves and 8 kilograms of San Pedro cactus powder stored in his apartment. These plants contain a miniscule percentage of narcotics (1–3%, according to the preliminary expert examination) but the investigators considered the substances to be pure cocaine and mescaline. In addition, Daniel is accused of smuggling ayahuasca, a traditional DMT-containing Peruvian decoction. Daniel himself claims that he didn’t order ayahuasca. According to the defense case, the ayahuasca dispatch is either the sender’s mistake or the traces of DMT in the liquid could be the result of an accident, since the “dragon blood” is produced in the same place as DMT-containing decoctions. The attempted sale of such an improbable amount of cocaine and mescaline (which is the prosecution’s case) may result in Daniel facing 15 years to life imprisonment.

The matter of principle

Daniel’s defense was joined by a civil rights group struggling to change drug control practices in Russia. The group considers widespread cases of equating cocaine and mescaline percentages with plants’ overall weight absurd and unfounded. In addition, scientists from the N.N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology provided an expert opinion regarding cultural and therapeutic functions of both coca leaves and San Pedro cactus in Peruvian cultural tradition. It showed that Daniel used illegal substances for self-treatment and had no malintent to produce and sell drugs. In essence, Daniel’s trial has become a struggle to change absurd drug control proceedings.

“Almost a third of all prisoners in Russia serve their sentence under the 228th article,” says human rights activist Arseny Levinson. – Usually, long-term sentences aren’t given to the dealers themselves but to ordinary drug addicts (users) or the «lowest-level participants» such as delivery guys who are falsely convicted of “distribution”, although those who actually profit from the drug business generally do not bear any responsibility. In addition, every once in a while drug police initiate public show trials in order to imitate vigorous activity. Recently, we have seen a campaign against poppy seed wholesalers, vets, doctors who prescribe painkillers to their patients — all of them were accused of the illicit sale of drugs. By all appearances, Daniel Dias-Strukov is yet another victim of this repressive drug policy.”

How to help

The accusation seems pointless – neither does Daniel produce nor sell narcotics, and currently we are fighting every year for this bright and relatable fellow, who naively stored the plants he had got used to in Peru, to be a free man. Daniel has spent his whole life helping his relatives in several countries and now they don’t know where to get the money to pay for his defense – the attorney’s services, an independent expert examination, and gathering all the necessary documents in Peru. We ask you to help Daniel with your money and reposts. It would also be an indirect way to assist in fighting the arbitrary justice system and empowering cultural exchange.

Why Daniel needs these plants

The circulation of coca leaves and Peruvian cactuses is free in some countries, but in Russia it is restricted. According to anthropologists, both the San Pedro cactus and the ayahuasca decoction are considered sacred in the Peruvian culture, hence a Peruvian can only consume them as a part of religious practice. As for coca leaves, they are chewed and brewed by many Peruvians who use them as a mild stimulant akin to coffee or as a remedy against altitude sickness. Daniel performed no rituals in Russia, and stored the cactus due to his belief that San Pedro cactus medication may help with his liver problems. Furthermore, Daniel saw the presence of these holy plants as a sign that he was not losing his spiritual bond with his Indigenous country. Daniel has visited his Peruvian relatives since his childhood, learned one of the languages of Peruvian Indigenous population, lived in rural communities and integrated himself in the culture. It was a place of respite for a Soviet boy whose father had come to the Soviet Union seeking a simple job.

In addition to his interest in Peruvian culture, Daniel had researched the life of “green” anarchists’ settlements in the European Union; while visiting them, he was specifically interested in the upbringing of children. Daniel believed that the constant rush and tyranny of competition in modern life are detrimental to our best qualities and he sought a way out. While living in Moscow, he worked in the Waldorf Kindergarten. Daniel also delivered public lectures on Peruvian culture, took part in university seminars and sometimes even brought shamans to Moscow so that they could deliver lectures themselves, while assuming their interpreter’s role.

strukov 2

Daniel has always read a lot and, as I’ve come to understand, his worldview became a legitimate and proper patchwork of Indigenous belief systems, Western psychological trends (akin to Family Constellations), some utopic social theories and his own kindheartedness. He has never refused to help anyone. I have heard testimony personally from his friends and patients. Sometimes people sought his advice. In other cases, he himself noticed that some of his friends were often exhausted or frequently ill. Daniel talked with these friends suggesting diets, lifestyles and some oils extracted from Peruvian herbs. He also sold these extracts and perfumes for 15–30 dollars. Daniel spurred one of his patients to get her family history straight. She talked to her mother about her alcoholic father who left the family and his difficult childhood; Daniel then staged a psychodrama based on the key points of that conversation. She described the process as an absolute wonder that helped her to see everything in a different light and to analyze her old grudges.

Several patients recorded video messages on Daniel’s behalf. They see Daniel as a talented healer and psychologist. These messages will be publicly available soon.

Current situation

After employing the Versia, an independent expert organization, the attorney and the civil rights activists successfully petitioned a second expert examination, which was an almost unprecedented victory. However, the defense is concerned about the quality of this expert examination since the forensic analysists have no experience with these plants. The next hearing will take place on April 25th. After that, we will need money for an independent critical analysis of the aforementioned expert examination.

The investigation obviously wants to make everything look as if they caught a drug lord. The most important thing at this point is to prove them wrong, to prove that Daniel A. didn’t store cocaine or mescaline, but rather plants which contain trace amounts of alkaloid-containing substances B. was a user, and not a distributor of illegal substances and C. perceived these plants as traditional Indigenous medications, not as narcotics. In other words, we need to prove that he couldn’t have had any intention to either produce or sell cocaine and mescaline nor to market coca leaves and cactus San Pedro themselves. But it will require an independent expert examination after the trial in late April, and we need funding.

Please transfer the funds to Daniel’s family so that he has the opportunity to be judged by the law, not by unjust accusations invented by the investigators.

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