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Call center girl admits drug trafficking

20 April 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina call center agent arrested last July at Hong Kong International Airport for allegedly carrying suspected cocaine in her handbag, pleaded guilty on Apr 18 to a charge of trafficking in a dangerous drug.

Ann Raian Cruz, 37, entered her guilty plea before Eastern Court Magistrate Jason Wan, who said she would now be committed to the Court of First Instance, which will schedule her sentencing.

Cruz, a single mother who came to Hong Kong as a tourist on July 30, was ordered remanded in custody and told she could apply for bail before the High Court. Her arrest was the first reported drug trafficking to Hong Kong originating at Ninoy Aquino International Airport since the Duterte administration assumed power on July 1.

Customs officers allegedly found about 610 grams of suspected cocaine concealed in her handbag. After “washing,” the seized drug was confirmed to be 508 grams of cocaine with a street value of $694,565.

When asked where she got the bag, Cruz allegedly told investigators she bought it for Php 400 from a friend named Jenny on her way to the Manila airport on July 30.

But in a letter she wrote to prison chaplain Father John Wotherspoon in August last year, Cruz said the bag was a last-minute present that her African boyfriend, Chris Williams, told her to pick up from another Filipina while she was on a taxicab to the airport.

Cruz said Williams had instructed her to give the woman Php 400 for taxi fare. The African also allegedly told her to use the bag as he wanted to see her carrying it when he joined her the next day in Hong Kong.

The Filipina said she met Williams a few months earlier in the online dating site Twoo where he introduced himself as a businessman.

She said the trip to Hong Kong was an idea of her boyfriend, who allegedly told her he wanted her to travel with him on business trips abroad. But their original plan to travel together on Jul 29 fell through when the man failed to show up at the airport for their 6pm flight, allegedly due to a business meeting.

Consulate staff who interviewed Cruz in jail shortly after her arrest confirmed she passed through NAIA Terminal 3 security unchallenged until she boarded a Cebu Pacific flight to Hong Kong.

Airport authorities have since tightened security.

Two couriers flying in from the Philippines on Sept 4 and Oct 7 last year were intercepted in Hong Kong. They were a Colombian female and a Brazilian male transiting Manila. Each yielded more than 3kg of cocaine hidden in their luggage.
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