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Judge asks for record of Consulate's interview with 3 Pinay drug mules

18 January 2018

Sentencing at the High Court has been reset to Aug 20
By Vir B. Lumicao

Three Filipinas convicted of bringing four kilos of cocaine into Hong Kong in late 2015 had their sentencing reset to August this year, pending the submission to the court of the Philippine Consulate’s recorded interview with the defendants.

Shirley Cua, Remelyn Roque and Ana Louella Creus appeared at the High Court earlier today (Jan. 18) for sentencing, after being convicted of drug-related offences on Nov. 14 last year.  A fourth defendant, Maricel Thomas, was acquitted of all charges

Judge Audrey Campbell-Moffat was given a letter from Vice Consul Robert Quintin addressed to the three defense lawyers, disclosing that two drug syndicate leaders in the Philippines had been arrested due to information supplied by the defendants.

But the judge was not satisfied with the letter, and instead asked for the transcript of the interviews that the Consulate had with the defendants on Sept. 29, 2015, a few days after they were arrested.

She adjourned the sentencing to Aug 20 after the lawyers said they needed enough time to request for the transcript, and have it translated to English from Tagalog.

The cocaine was found in a secret compartment of this luggage
The defendants said in the interview that they were offered a free trip to Hong Kong by a certain Nora Noora, an acquaintance of Roque, in exchange for carrying four pieces of luggage to be delivered to a man in Chung King Mansions.
                                                                        
The four broke up into two pairs when they got off the last flight of Cebu Pacific Air from Manila at Hong Kong International Airport on Sept 23, 2015. Roque and Creus cleared customs unchallenged, but Cua and Thomas were intercepted minutes later

The hand carried bags of Chua and Thomas yielded four slabs later found to contain nearly 2 kilos of pure cocaine. Acting on their information, Roque and Creus were arrested as they boarded a flight back to Manila on Oct. 25, 2015. By then the hand carried bags with the other half of the cocaine haul were no longer with them.

In mitigation, defense counsel Nicholas Adams submitted a letter from Roque, saying it was Noora who had asked her to invite people who wanted to go on a free trip to Hong Kong.

Campbell-Moffat voiced concern that Noora was not arrested by Philippine authorities even if she was named by all the defendants as the one who recruited them for the drug deliveries in Hong Kong.

Adams submitted two other letters: one from correctional chaplain Fr. John Wotherspoon who wrote about a Nigerian drug syndicate that is reportedly recruiting Filipina drug mules for Hong Kong, and another from Vice Consul Quintin.

But Campbell-Moffat told Adams that she would not admit as mitigation a letter about Noora’s role in the drug trade, but would consider a copy of the recorded interviews conducted by the Consulate.

She told Adams as well as barristers Kevin Egan, for Chua, and Phil Chau, for Creus, to request from the Consulate a transcript of the interviews.

News reports from the Philippines indicated that agents of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency who raided the residence of Katumba and Ramos in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, seized 10 kilos of cocaine and 2 kilos of  “shabu”, or “ice”,  worth PhP20 million.

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