A 28-year-old Venezuelan woman was jailed for 30 years yesterday after being convicted of bringing nearly three kilos of cocaine from Brazil to Cambodia.
Tourist Mejias Neilin Coromoto was arrested in February last year by Interior Ministry anti-drug police in collaboration with custom and excise and immigration police at Phnom Penh International Airport.
She was charged by Phnom Penh Municipal Court with drug trafficking and could have been jailed for life.
Presiding Judge Theam Chanpiseth instead sentenced her to 30 years.
“She is sentenced to 30 years in prison,” the judge said. “The court has also fined her 20 million riel ($5,000) to be put into the state’s budget.”
Deputy prosecutor Long Cheap said Ms Coromoto was not a drug ringleader. She was hired by a Nigerian suspect named Jonatun, who is still at large, to bring the cocaine from Brazil to Cambodia.
The drugs were destined to be sent to Thailand, he noted.
Mr Cheap said Ms Coromoto confessed at the police station that Jonatun promised her 30 percent of the wholesale value of the drugs when she brought them to Cambodia.
“She was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport after customs officers checked her suitcase and found many packages of cocaine in powder form hidden inside,” Mr Cheap said.
After her arrest, police seized a total of 2,710 grams of cocaine from her.
Ms Coromoto said yesterday that the judgement was unjust and she could not accept it. She added that she palns to appeal.
However, during her trial last month Ms Coromoto accepted that she took part in the drug run.
She said the packages of cocaine seized from her bag belonged to Jonatun, who put them in her suitcase and asked her to give them to his unidentified Nigerian friend living in Cambodia.
She added that when Jonatun put the packages in her suitcase, she did know they contained cocaine because she did not check them.
She found out that the packages were drugs after she was arrested by police.
“I was not the owner of the cocaine seized from my suitcase,” she told the court. “The drugs seized belonged to Jonatun, who is at large and living in Brazil. He asked me to bring it and give it to his friend living in Cambodia.”