09/04/2003

Drugs 'mule' sentenced to seven years

A man who was arrested for smuggling cocaine through London's Waterloo Eurostar Terminal has been today jailed for seven years at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court.

Iuri Jorge Coelho, a 19-year-old Portuguese national, was stopped by Customs officers at Waterloo International Terminal on February 8, having arrived on a train from Brussels. When officers questioned him Coelho admitted that he had swallowed about a kilo of cocaine. He was arrested and eventually passed a total of 92 packages containing the drug.

Customs spokesperson, Shona Lowe, said: "To have prevented this cocaine from reaching the streets of the UK is an excellent result. Anyone thinking that drug smuggling is an easy way to make money should realise that both Customs and the Courts take this sort of criminal activity very seriously and they can expect a jail sentence."

Coelho had earlier pleaded guilty to importing 990 grammes of the drug, which was equivalent to 584 grammes at 100% purity, once analysed. The drugs were valued at £43,883.

HM Customs & Excise said that the Crown accepted that Coelho's role in the smuggling attempt was that of a 'mule'.

Coelho's defence explained that he had left home when his mother died and he had turned to smuggling drugs to alleviate his money problems.

It was also acknowledged that he was to be paid $3,000 to smuggle the drugs and $2,500 had been paid in advance.

(GMcG)

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