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Pinoy seaman gets 9 years in jail for drug trafficking

23 December 2018

The Fipino seaman was jailed for 9 years despite 60% discount on his sentence
By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipino seafarer who admitted sneaking two kilos of cocaine molded like shoe soles into Hong Kong has been sentenced to 9 years and two months for drug trafficking.

Carlito B. Platon, 49, got a 60% discount in his sentence for pleading guilty to the offence and testifying against his Colombian co-accused during a 10-day trial at the Court of First Instance.

Judge Ester Toh imposed the sentence on Dec. 20 after Platon’s lawyer, Maurice Peter Tracy, said the sailor had been put under significant pressure not to plead guilty by his Colombian co-accused, Cristhian Enrique Posso.

The pressure increased when a solicitor allegedly visited Platon in jail and tried to dissuade him from testifying for his own and his family’s safety.

Judge Toh said police are now investigating the lawyer for the threat and that Platon may be asked to testify again when the case goes to court.

Despite the threat, Platon gave evidence that, Judge Toh said, helped the jury pinpoint and convict Posso as the lead player in the trafficking of 1.982 kilograms of cocaine valued at $1.762 million.

Toh said she found Platon a reliable and credible witness who was driven to commit the crime due to the medical needs of his wife and mother. The judge said he was not a professional criminal or a professional drug trafficker.

Posso, 38, was convicted of drug trafficking on Dec 12 and was sentenced on the same day by Toh to 24 years and three months.

His co-defendant, Jose Gonzalez Uribe, who claimed he was just asked by his friend Posso to accompany him on a shopping trip to Jordan Road on June 2 last year, was acquitted.

Customs and police officers arrested Posso, Uribe and Platon while they were on board a taxi in Yaumatei which they had taken after meeting up at the Panda Hotel in Jordan.

Posso, accompanied by Uribe, had booked a room at the hotel, where Platon was to have delivered the cocaine.

Unknown to the three, Customs and police undercover men had already put Platon under surveillance after Hong Kong was alerted on May 31 by a US law enforcement agency that a cargo of cocaine would be brought in by a ship on June 2.

The courier was identified as Platon, who was due to arrive on a Maersk ship.

When the ship arrived at Kwai Chung port, a Customs and police team boarded the ship and searched Platon’s cabin but found no drug and they left.  

Platon, in his evidence, said he left the ship and was met by a Chinese man wearing a helmet and goggles who gave him a black plastic bag and a SIM card and told him to call Posso at Panda Hotel in Jordan.

He was instructed to go to Panda and meet up with Posso where he would deliver the drug and be paid in US dollars. Instead, he was given $105,000 in Hong Kong bills.

When arrested, Platon’s rucksack yielded the payoff money, which was in four stacks of $500 bank notes tied up with rubber bands. He gave up meekly after a brief chase.

Posso threw the bag containing the drug on the ground and struggled when officers caught up with him. Uribe tried to run away but was met by other officers.

Platon said he met the source of the drug during a ship call in Colombia. He said he agreed to be used because he was in debt and needed money for his wife’s surgery and his mother’s medical needs.

He denied agreeing to testify because he wanted to get a discount in his sentence, and said he only wanted to “clear my conscience.”

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