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DH in cocaine parcel case told to get a lawyer

09 January 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Prosecutors have objected to the granting of bail to a Filipina arrested in North Point in September after receiving an air parcel containing 650 grams of cocaine allegedly sent by her African ex-boyfriend.

Tsuen Wan Magistrate Jin Chun-ki adjourned the hearing for 15 minutes to give defendant Welba E. Gannaban, who faces a drug trafficking charge, time to find a duty lawyer to represent her. The 40-year-old defendant did not apply for bail, but he prosecution said anyway that she should not be allowed temporary liberty due to the seriousness of her offense.

The prosecutors applied for an adjournment of the hearing to Feb 3 pending a chemist's report and legal advice.

Magistrate Jin set the next hearing for 9:30am on Feb 3 at West Kowloon Court and instructed Gannaban to engage a duty lawyer to represent her in future hearings.

Jun asked the domestic helper why she was not represented by a lawyer on Dec 23, and also when she was first committed to the court in June, and Gannaban replied that nobody had told her to get a lawyer and she thought the police would do that for her.

Gannaban was the second Filipina helper to be arrested in just a span of three months for taking delivery of a drug-laden air parcel posted from abroad.

In June, 31-year-old Eleanor Amorin fell in a similar entrapment employed by the authorities after they intercepted a gift parcel stuffed with about a kilogram of cocaine that was addressed to her employer’s house. The package was sent to her from Ethiopia by her newfound Nigerian boyfriend.
Amorin was initially charged at Tsuen Wan Court with trafficking in a dangerous drug but freed by Magistrate Chang Kei-hong after the prosecutors withdrew the case.

Gannaban was arrested on Sept 23 by a joint Customs and police team on Sept 23 after she accepted a parcel posted from Addis Ababa and addressed to her at her employer’s North Point flat. She did not suspect the delivery man was an officer.

The defendant told investigators the parcel was sent by her former boyfriend, a Nigerian she met in Hong Kong, supposedly for a friend who would pick it up later from her.

Her arrest prompted the Consulate and the Mission for Migrants Workers to warn Filipinas in Hong Kong to be wary of the new air parcel modus being used by drug syndicates, particularly those based in West Africa.

The modus involves African men, particularly Nigerians, befriending and courting unsuspecting foreign domestic helpers who they meet through friends or on social media and then asking for their employers’ addresses so they could send gifts to the women.

Vice Consul Alex Vallespin had earlier warned Filipinas about strangers offering friendship and love online because of the probability they would be used to smuggle dangerous drugs into Hong Kong.

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