Pinoy seaman gets nine years for trafficking in illegal drugs

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High Court in Admiralty

A High Court judge sentenced a 50-year-old Filipino seaman to more than nine years in prison after he admitted to smuggling into Hong Kong more than HK$1.6 million (P10.7 million) worth of cocaine.

Court of First Instance Justice E. Toh said the defendant, with initials C.B.P., should have been imprisoned for 23 years but she reduced his sentence by 60 percent after he testified in court against his co-accused, a Colombian, despite threats to himself and his family back in the Philippines.

“So, the defendant goes into prison for nine years and two months,” said Justice Toh on Dec. 20.

“I must say he is a very impressive witness. He gave his account without embellishment. In my opinion, he’s a very reliable and credible witness,” she added.

Justice Toh noted that the Filipino testified even after a lawyer visited him in prison and allegedly threatened him and his family to dissuade him from testifying.

“It is his evidence in court that this particular person had seen him and made threats to his safety and the safety of his family,” the justice said.

“It is sad to hear of matters of this nature if it is borne out that the defendant faced threats from a person from the legal profession,” she added.

Justice Toh noted that the police District Crimes Squad was already investigating the lawyer’s actions. She also noted that the Colombian wrote the Filipino’s lawyers in an apparent attempt to convince them to stop the seaman from testifying.

Because of the seaman’s testimony, the Colombian was eventually convicted. Another Colombian who was also charged in the case was acquitted.

On Nov. 27, the seaman pleaded guilty to the charge of trafficking in dangerous drugs after he brought into the city 1.333 kilos of cocaine in June 2017.

His lawyer said the Filipino needed the money because he was in debt due to the medical bills of his wife and 72-year-old mother. The defendant had been a seaman for 27 years and earned a salary of US$1,300.

The prosecutor said the Filipino was arrested on June 2, 2017, or a day after his ship arrived in HK

The seaman was under surveillance the moment he arrived in Hong Kong after Customs officers got a tip about a drug shipment.

According to the Filipino, a Chinese man wearing goggles and helmet gave him the black plastic bag containing the illegal drugs before he disembarked from his ship and proceeded to his hotel.

It was at the hotel that the two Colombians fetched him. At around 3:20 p.m. on June 2, they boarded a taxi to Jordan.

They alighted at the corner of Ferry and Man Wui Streets, where Customs officers intercepted them.

One of the Colombians threw away  the plastic bag which contained “1.982 kilograms of a solid substance” while cash worth HK$105,100 were found in the Filipino’s backpack.G

Government chemists checked the suspected illegal drugs and determined that it contained 1.333 kilos of cocaine.

The prosecutor said the street value of the illegal drugs was HK$1,677,754.

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