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OFW in HK held in India for 4.7kg cocaine haul

04 January 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao
A cocaine pack seized from a drug courier in HK

A Hong Kong-based Filipina maid has reportedly been arrested by Indian anti-narcotics agents after she was arrested on Jan 2 for allegedly carrying into the country 4.7 kilograms of cocaine from Brazil.

Indian online media quoting narcotics officers said the woman, Jonna de Torres, was intercepted at Nedumbassery International Airport in Cochin, the capital of Kerala state, as she tried to bring in the drug, said to be worth US$3.9 million (HK$30.4 million).

The SUN contacted the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi for an update about Torres, but has not yet received a reply.

Torres reportedly admitted being paid US$4,000 ($31,200) by a Sao Paulo-based drug cartel to take the dangerous drug to India. She was supposed to stay in a hotel in Cochin booked online by the cartel, the New India Express online news service reported.

The news portal quoted an officer of the Narcotic Control Bureau as saying it had been informed that Torres, a helper in Hong Kong with a Filipino passport issued in 2013, had carried drugs several times in the past but this was her first trip to India.

The NCB officers said Torres’ passport showed she visited Brazil for five days before the New Year and was there previously in 2015. The Filipina was paid US$2,000 to US$4,000 for smuggling drugs, with her last errand earning her US$4,000, New India Express reported.

“Torres has admitted to smuggling drugs on several occasions. It was her first attempt to transport drugs to India,” an NCB officer was quoted as saying.

In India, the maximum penalty for drug smuggling is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 rupees.

The officer said Torres alleged in a statement that a Brazilian who she did not know visited her at Sao Paulo and gave her two pieces of luggage –a trolley bag and a handbag.

“The cocaine was concealed in the trolley bag. The booking of her flight and a room at a hotel in Ernakulam North was done by someone from Sao Paulo,” the officer said. He said Torres refused to name anyone during her several hours of interrogation.

Torres’ itinerary showed a circuitous flight route from Sao Paulo, a port city on the Atlantic coast of Brazil, to Cochin via the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the Omani capital Muscat.

The officer said the drug syndicate must have wrongly thought that Nedumbassery Airport was an easy entry port for smuggled drugs as baggage checking would be minimal. He said NCB was surprised to see Torres’ baggage containing cocaine getting through Addis Ababa and Muscat airports undetected before reaching Cochin.

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