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Foreign drug smuggler given death
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09:02, October 24, 2008

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A court here yesterday condemned an African woman to death for drug smuggling and meted out penalties ranging from 15 years to life in prison to three other foreigners.

Awor Ocer Lucy, a 42-year-old Ugandan, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for smuggling more than 2 kg of heroin into China.

The woman was seized by customs officials at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport after drugs were found in her luggage on April 11.

Bernard Sogbossi from the Republic of Benin and Sunday Ogbonna Okah from Nigeria each received life sentences for attempting to smuggle 200 g and 900 g of heroin respectively through the same airport in April.

Filipino Balachawi Vilma Tuguinay was sentenced to 15 years in jail for smuggling 128 g of heroin into Guangzhou.

The 31-year-old entered China through Shenzhen airport. She was arrested at a Guangzhou hospital after reporting with a stomachache on Feb 28 two weeks after swallowing the plastic-wrapped heroin when she left for China.

All four foreigners were convicted at the Guangzhou intermediate people's court yesterday.

"The verdicts sound alarm bells for foreign smugglers," Li Zhongyuan, a press official at the court, said.

"Any smuggling within the city will be dealt via judicial punishment."

The number of smuggling cases involving foreigners in this southern city has risen since 2006, Li said.

Official statistics show Guangzhou customs has seized about 250 kg of drugs from foreigners in 190 investigations since a crackdown began in August 2006.

More than 40,000 non-Chinese nationals are currently registered as residents in Guangdong, most of whom live and do business in this capital city of Guangdong, the provincial police department said.

"Guangzhou has become one of the hot destinations for foreign smugglers. In particular, smuggling by foreigners via the airport has become worse since last year," Xu Yue, a spokeswoman with Guangzhou customs, said.

"The cases involved foreigners smuggling ice, heroin and cocaine, either in their luggage or in their bodies, entering or leaving from the airport," she said.

Most foreign smugglers hailed from the Middle East, and Southeast and West Asia, she said.

"We will introduce more hi-tech facilities and station more customs police at the airport's exit and entry points to detect smuggling more efficiently," Xu said.

Source: China Daily

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