Colombia hails arrest of alleged drug kingpin

Colombia’s armed forces have captured Dario Antonio Usuga, known as “Otoniel”, in the biggest blow to drug trafficking in the Andean country since the death of Pablo Escobar, President Ivan Duque said on Saturday.

Otoniel, 50, was captured during operation Osiris in a rural area of Colombia’s Uraba region, located in Antioquia province. He is accused of sending dozens of shipments of cocaine to the United States, and Duque said he is also accused of killing police officers, recruiting minors, and sexually abusing children among other crimes.

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Hong Kong customs seize HK$30 million worth of cocaine stashed in rims of container doors, admit smuggling problem is worsening

Hong Kong customs officers said they smashed a transnational drug smuggling syndicate on Monday, seizing a HK$30 million stash of cocaine and making three arrests.

The latest operation was the third large cocaine raid mounted by customs this year and the authorities admitted smuggling of the drug was a serious problem.

In the first six months of 2018, police and customs officers seized a total of 355kg of cocaine – almost double the 180kg haul in the same period last year.

The trio will appear at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday morning charged with trafficking in a dangerous drug and manufacturing of a dangerous drug.

The 26kg of suspected cocaine in 36 packs was found hidden in the door rims of a 20-foot container which arrived at Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound from Colombia on August 22.

Chan Tsz-tat, head of customs’ ports and maritime command, said the shipping document declared the container held 1.4 tonnes of wooden baffles worth about US$2,800.

Suspicious of the origins, weight, and value of the declared items, officers examined the container by X-ray and found the colour around the rims of the doors was deeper.

“The items inside the container were just empty wooden boxes of poor quality instead of wooden baffles,” Chan said on Wednesday. “When officers knocked on the doors, the sound was different. The rims were completely sealed and we were not able to find anything. We passed the case to the customs drug investigation bureau for further investigation.”

Customs tailed the container to a metal shack in Yuen Long where they arrested the 32-year-old driver, a 52-year-old South American man, and another 32-year-old local man.

Source: SCMP 

Tough justice: Colombian jailed for 16 years for bringing cocaine to Hong Kong to repay debts for his sister’s medicine

A Colombian drug mule who admitted trafficking more than HK$2.7 million worth of cocaine into Hong Kong to repay debts for his sister’s medicine was jailed for 16 years and eight months by a High Court judge on Friday.

Cesar Sanchez, 21, did not initially react to the sentence on one count of trafficking a dangerous drug. But he broke down in tears as his lawyers gathered around the dock to explain the sentence after the hearing.

The former butcher was convicted after stating through an interpreter: “I declare myself guilty.”

Sanchez was arrested at Hong Kong International Airport on October 26 last year after officers found five packets of paste, which contained 1,719 grams of cocaine, inside a rucksack.

According to prosecutors, he was offered up to US$35,000 to take the rucksack from Sao Paulo in Brazil. They said a man called Marcos came to his home and threatened to kill him or hurt his younger sister if he changed his mind about the trip.

Defense counsel Michael Arthur explained that his client had borrowed 5 million Colombian pesos (HK$13,127) from a loan shark to cover living expenses and medicine for his sister, 17.

Sanchez, as her primary caregiver, was earning a monthly wage of 900,000 pesos while she needed a million pesos a month to treat the lupus she was suffering.

When he could not meet repayment deadlines and the 20 percent daily interest, Sanchez reluctantly agreed to work for the loan shark, Arthur said.

“He regrets getting involved in drug trafficking,” Arthur continued. “This is an offense that is borne out of desperation.”

The court heard that Sanchez joined a campaign to write blogs and send letters back home to discourage fellow Colombians from taking drugs to Hong Kong.

But deputy High Court judge Madam Justice Susana D’Almada Remedios did not accept that as a mitigating factor. However, she reduced the initial 25-year sentence by a third because of his guilty plea.<

“Dangerous drug trafficking is a very, very serious offense,” she said. “It is unfortunate that people like yourself are targeted … I have every sympathy for persons like you.”

There were clear and binding sentencing guidelines laid down by the Court of Appeal, the judge said.

Under Hong Kong law, those convicted of trafficking dangerous drugs can be jailed for life and fined HK$5 million.

Source: SCMP