Venezuelan gets suspended sentence over $469k cocaine

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

A VENEZUELAN woman arrested last year after being found in possession of more than 5kg of cocaine valued at $469 000 could not believe her luck yesterday when Harare magistrate Morgan Nemadire gave her a wholly suspended sentence.

Delcy Daymar Rodriguez Guererro could not hide her joy after Nemadire, who earlier convicted her, delivered a wholly suspended seven-month jail term or $700 fine for a matter which ordinarily attracts more than 10 years imprisonment.

In sentencing her, Nemadire ruled that it was expensive to keep foreigners in local prisons, adding that the convict had also complained of ill-health.

Nemadire ordered the State to dispose the cocaine.

Prosecutor George Manokore had submitted that a fine would trivialise the gravity of the offence and would be a mockery to the justice delivery system.

“Zimbabwe should not be taken as a playground for drug-related offences. In some jurisdictions such as China, and generally Asian countries, they impose capital sentence and that shows the seriousness of the offence in relation to drugs. The State suggests that the accused be sentenced to the maximum penal provision,” Manokore told the court.

The court heard that on October 18 last year, police on duty at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport received a tip-off that Guererro was travelling to Harare from Brazil and was suspected to carrying dangerous drugs.

When Guererro disembarked from the flight, she proceeded to the clearance counter in the arrivals hall to clear her passport.

She was immediately identified as she was getting her passport stamped.

The immigration officer alerted detectives, who detained her and found the drug among her luggage.

Additional tests by the forensic scientist laboratory confirmed the banned substance.

Last year, a Mbare woman, Veronica Matongo, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya for illegal possession of 2,3kg of cocaine with a street value of $185 464.

A Peruvian drug trafficker was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in December last year after he was found in possession of 1kg of cocaine valued at $91 520 hidden in his suitcase handles at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

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