Colombian beauty queen jailed in China for drug smuggling

Juliana Lopez Sarrazola, 23, was caught in possession of a laptop with 610 grams of cocaine hidden inside at an airport in the southern city of Guangzhou in July last year.
Colombian Juliana Lopez Sarrazola, 23, was caught in possession of a laptop with 610 grams of cocaine in Guagnzhou airport.  Ivan Valencia / AFP Photo
Colombian Juliana Lopez Sarrazola, 23, was caught in possession of a laptop with 610 grams of cocaine in Guagnzhou airport. Ivan Valencia / AFP Photo

BEIJING // An aspiring Colombian beauty queen has been convicted of drug smuggling by a Chinese court and sentenced to 15 years in jail, state-run media reported on Tuesday.

Juliana Lopez Sarrazola, 23, was caught in possession of a laptop with 610 grams of cocaine hidden inside at an airport in the southern city of Guangzhou in July last year, the Yangcheng Evening News said.

She was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday and will be expelled from the country once the term is served, according to the report, which described her as a model.

Videos posted online show Sarrazola seeking a place in the 2014-15 Senorita Antioquia beauty contest, the winner of which has a chance to compete to represent Colombia at Miss World.

Sarrazola said she agreed to carry the drugs for a Colombian drug dealer, identified only as Sergio in the report, because she wanted to borrow money from him to attend the Miss World pageant, the newspaper said.

She was paid for her air tickets, hotel and US$776 (Dh2,850) in cash and the drug dealer agreed to reward her with a further $2,500 if the scheme went through, it said.

The final of Miss World 2015 was held in Sanya in China’s island province of Hainan.

Sarrazola’s lawyers appealed to the court for leniency on the grounds that Sergio threatened to kill her family if she refused to comply with his demands, the Nanfang Daily reported.

Colombian authorities had previously said she could face death penalty if convicted.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: July 26, 2016 04:00 AM

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