Colombian Model Sentenced to 15 Years in Chinese Prison For Allegedly Smuggling Drugs

A Colombian model and potential Miss World beauty pageant contender was sentenced to 15 years in prison by The People’s Intermediate Court of Guangzhou in China on Monday.

Last July, 22-year-old Juliana Lopez Sarrazola was arrested for allegedly smuggling 610 grams of cocaine in a laptop at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

Sarrazola was the winner of the Miss Antioquia beauty contest in Colombia and hoped to compete in the Miss World 2015 finals as Miss Colombia in Sanya, China in December. After learning of her arrest, her mother and members of her local soccer club set up a fund to raise money to hire a lawyer and cover her mother’s expenses for travel to China.

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China is known to have notoriously severe punishments, including lifetime imprisonment or the death penalty, for those caught smuggling drugs. During the case, Sarrazola testified:

“I wanted to compete in the Miss World beauty contest. A Colombian drug dealer named Sergio agreed to give me money if I brought a computer filled with drugs into Guangzhou and gave it to his friend who would give me 2500 USD (16690 RMB). Accommodations and plane tickets are expensive, but he would pay for all that. The 776 USD (5180 RMB) in my luggage was from him.”

According to South China Morning Post, Sarrazola’s lawyer added that Sergio blackmailed Sarrazola and threatened to kill her family if she didn’t agree to do it. Members of the court acknowledged that the amount of money she would have received from the transaction was very little compared to the value of the drugs she was attempting to smuggle.

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In addition to her 15 year sentence, Sarrazola must pay an estimated 20,000 RMB, about $3,000, fine. Sina reported that Sarrazola is expected to leave China once she is finished serving her sentence.

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