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Elderly Fil-Am charged with trafficking 2kg of cocaine

03 July 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The cocaine found in a suitcase allegedly belonging to Purugganan

A 78-year-old Filipino-American man pleaded not guilty on Friday, Jul 2, at the High Court to a charge of trafficking in dangerous drugs for allegedly bringing to Hong Kong around 2 kilograms of cocaine two years ago.

Rogelo G. Purugganan appeared before Judge Audrey Patricia Campbell-Moffat on the first day of a scheduled 14-day jury trial in the Court of First Instance.


The trial itself, however, did not begin as Moffat, prosecutor Anthony Sherry and defense counsel Michael Arthur discussed issues that needed to be resolved before the jury was selected.

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Purugganan was arrested on his arrival at Hong Kong International Airport from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Jul 12, 2019 after Customs officers allegedly found 2.08 kilograms of suspected cocaine in his luggage.

Following a laboratory test, the drug was found to contain 1.54kg of pure cocaine.

Purugganan, who reportedly immigrated with his family to the United States from the Philippines in the 1970s, was charged with one count of drug trafficking in West Kowloon Court on Jul 15, 2019.

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Following his arrest, officers of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section asked him if he needed help but he reportedly said he was a US citizen.

The hearing continues Monday.

One of the defendants in the burglary case also pleaded guilty to stealing 40 packs of chocolates 

Meanwhile, two Filipino permanent residents in Hong Kong, one of them a self-confessed chocolate lover, were charged in Eastern Court on Friday, Jul 2 with burglary, for breaking into a private office in Causeway Bay last weekend and stealing $60,600 worth of property. 


The two defendants, Manuel Sy Jr and Cloyd de Vera, both 37, appeared before Magistrate Peter Law but did not enter a plea. Their case has been adjourned to Aug 7 were not asked to enter their plea.

De Vera was convicted minutes earlier for stealing chocolates. 

The prosecution requested for an adjournment of the case until Aug 27 for further police investigation and legal advice.

The prosecution said Sy and De Vera trespassed into the premises of Propice Human Resources Company on Jun 26 and carted away one safe valued at $1,600, cash of $58,000 and three cellphones valued at $1,000.

The office was at shop 42, G/F, Haven Court at 128-138 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay.

The prosecutor said De Vera, an unemployed construction worker, was seen on CCTV as accompanying Sy, a delivery man, in entering the Propice office last Saturday.

She said Sy had two previous convictions for theft and a pending burglary case in District Court.  De Vera had four previous convictions, including another one in West Kowloon Court for theft.

The two defendants applied for bail, offering $1,000 each, but Law refused their request due to their being flight risks and their previous record.

The magistrate ordered them remanded in custody until Aug 27. 

Before the burglary case, De Vera pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing 40 packs of chocolate worth $1,138 in a Wellcome supermarket on the ground floor of Pearl City Mansion, Great George St, Causeway Bay, on May 22.

During an interview by police following his arrest, De Vera reportedly said he took the candies because he loves chocolates. His duty lawyer cited this and his client’s guilty plea in mitigation.

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