By Mary Taruvinga
A VENEZUELAN woman who was arrested last year after being found in possession of more than 5kg of cocaine valued at US$469 000, was on Tuesday handed a wholly suspended sentence by a Harare magistrate.
Delcy Daymar Rodriguez Guererro was convicted after a full trial by magistrate Morgan Nemadire who then sentenced her to a suspended seven-month jail term with the option of paying $700 fine.
Similar cases usually attract a penalty of not less than 10 years behind bars.
In passing sentence, the magistrate said it was expensive for the tax payer to keep foreigners behind bars.
“The accused also complained of ill-health and this case will meet justice by imposing a non-custodial sentence against her,” he ruled.
Prosecutor George Manokore had begged the court to send Guererro to prison saying a fine would trivialise the gravity of the offence.
“Zimbabwe is not a playground for drug dealers. In some jurisdictions such as China, and generally Asian countries, they impose capital sentence and that shows the seriousness of the offence in relation to drugs,” said the prosecutor.
Manokore proved that on October 18 last year, Border and Control unit detectives received information to the effect that Guererro was on her way from Brazil and was suspected to be in possession of dangerous drugs.
When she disembarked from the flight, Guererro went to the clearance counter in the Arrivals hall for passport clearance.
Court heard she was immediately identified during stamping of her passport and information was relayed to detectives who were conducting some surveillance.
“Accused person picked her black monarch within the airport arrival hall and selected the Zimra green route exit point where she was intercepted by detectives while pulling her suitcase inscribed with her tag number and name, ”said Manokore.
It was proved that she was searched, leading to the recovery of whitish powder which was stashed inside six black blocks wrapped with rexin material in her monarch.
Field tests analysis was conducted on the whitish powder in the presence of Guererro and it tested positive to cocaine.
Court heard further tests were conducted by Forensic scientist laboratory and it tested positive for cocaine.
The cocaine allegedly weighed 5.86 kilogrammes with a street value of $469 040.
Last year, a local woman Veronica Matongo, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya for illegal possession of 2,3kg of cocaine with a street value of $185 464.
Also, a Peruvian drug trafficker was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in December last year after he was found in possession of 1kg of cocaine valued at $91 520 hidden in his suitcase handles at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Last year, some 12 Zimbabweans were reportedly facing a death sentence in China for drug trafficking.
Guererro was represented by her lawyer Ashiel Mugiya.