On July 18, 22-year-old beauty pageant model and soccer enthusiast Juliana Lopez was arrested at the Guangzhou airport in China for smuggling drugs across the border. Lopez is now facing either life in prison or the death penalty.
According to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Lopez left for China two weeks ago looking to collect clothing, accessories and other souvenirs she could sell back home but lost contact with her family after a layover in Paris.
When she stopped responding to emails, phone calls and text messages, her family contacted a lawyer who immediately called the American Embassy in China.
The embassy notified the Lopez family that Juliana had been arrested and would be facing either life in prison or the death penalty for smuggling psychoactive drugs inside her computer.
Friends and family told the newspaper that Lopez was a good girl, a student and a committed teammate. She played for a local soccer club called The Football Divas where she was well liked by all of her teammates and coach Alejandro Duque.
Duque told the newspaper that the team will be putting on a private exhibition match to raise money and awareness for Lopez and her mother, who is in dire need of financial support.
While Lopez sits in a Chinese prison cell, her mother is frantically trying to hire a lawyer and cover trip expenses to and from China.
Lopez is in the prayers of many this week as she misses the Miss World Medellin pageant, where she was expected to compete.
One of Lopez’s close friends, Lis Hernandez, told the newspaper:
“My heart tells me she is not guilty. You cannot condemn her yet, I have hope that she is innocent and everything is clear.”
A Bancolombia savings account numbered 1013-31885-82 under the name of Sarrazola Olga has been created by Lopez’s supporters for anyone wishing to donate to Lopez and her family.