Cocaine courier earns nine years in prison

Bruno Bastos

A BRAZILIAN citizen who smuggled a kilogramme of swallowed cocaine into Namibia near the end of 2021 is now facing an effective prison term of nine years.

It was clear that Bruno Lourenço Bastos’ smuggling of cocaine from Brazil to Namibia was an organised crime that was premeditated and well- planned, magistrate Justine Asino said when she sentenced Bastos in the Windhoek Regional Court yesterday.

She said she was taking into account that Bastos (41), who admitted guilt on a charge of dealing in dangerous dependence-producing drugs in Novem- ber last year, was a first-time offender, but added he was not entitled to avoid a term of imprisonment, because this was his first recorded criminal offence.

Dealing in drugs is a serious crime and drug dealers are unscrupulous criminals, Asino remarked. Bastos admitted that he brought 98 ‘bullets’ of cocaine, which he had swallowed, into Namibia at Hosea Kutako International Airport on 1 November 2021. The cocaine, which the police confiscated after Bastos excreted it at a Windhoek hospital, weighed 1,04 kilogrammes and had an estimated street-market value of N$343 000.In a plea statement given to the court, Bastos recounted that he was intercepted by Namibian customs officials and police officers at the airport, where he arrived on a flight from Addis Ababa, during a journey that started in São Paulo in Brazil.He said he was later informed the Namibian authorities had received information from Brazilian customs officials that he was suspected of carrying an illegal substance.

During a presentence hearing last Friday, Bastos told the court he was working as an air conditioning technician in Brazil. He has two children, aged 13 and eight, in Brazil, he said.

He said he brought the cocaine he was carrying in his digestive system to Namibia because he wanted to make some extra money. He was supposed to be paid US$2 000 (about N$34 000) for taking the cocaine to Namibia, Bastos said.

He also told the magistrate he did not know the person who was supposed to take delivery of the cocaine from him. He said the arrangement was that he had to book in at a hotel in Windhoek, where the cocaine would have been collected by the intended recipient of the consignment.

Since he got caught and the cocaine was con- fiscated, he was not paid for his failed mission, Bastos said. The person in Brazil who had sent him to Namibia disappeared after his arrest, he added.

He regretted the crime that he committed, Bastos said as well, promising that he would not repeat the offence.

Asino sentenced him to 11 years’ imprisonment, of which two years are suspended for a period of five years on condition that he is not convicted of dealing in dangerous drugs, during the period of suspension.
Bastos was represented by defence lawyer Mpule Siyomunji.
Public prosecutor Menencia Hinda represented the state.

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