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Jail for man who swallowed 39 condoms filled with liquid cocaine

Cocaine: Arteaga pleaded guilty to importation of cocaine at Dublin Airport
Cocaine: Arteaga pleaded guilty to importation of cocaine at Dublin Airport

A Bolivian national who swallowed 39 condoms filled with liquid cocaine so as to import the drugs into Ireland has been jailed for four years.

Parada Hermen Arteaga (65) later told gardaí that he had met “a guy” on the street and agreed to transport the drugs in order to get cash to help out his family.

He later passed the pellets in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital after he was brought there because of fears for his safety. The condoms contained a total of 1.28 Kg of cocaine with a street value of €90,639.

Arteaga, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to importation of cocaine at Dublin Airport on March 26, 2014. He has no previous convictions either here or in his native country.

Judge Martin Nolan said “there was a degree of desperation” on Arteaga’s part and he was on the “very lowest rung of this transportation system”.

He sentenced him to four years in prison which he backdated to March 2014.

Garda Kevin Nolan told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that Arteaga was stopped by custom officers, using routine passenger profiling, after coming off a flight from Sao Paulo.

He said he was a retired petrol engineer and initially claimed he had come to Ireland as a tourist. He then admitted he had swallowed the drugs and was taken to hospital.

Arteaga later told gardaí that he was to go to a hotel after leaving the airport and ring a contact in Bolivia for further instructions.

Gda Nolan agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending that her client was a drug mule who “had put both his health and life at risk to transport these drugs”.

He accepted that he was fully co-operative and had pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Ms Biggs said her client was a on a state pension in Bolivia and was financially responsible for his mother who was in poor health. She said he had “engaged in this act” in order to get money to help her out.

Counsel told Judge Nolan that Arteaga had made a “poor decision” but has been doing well in custody since his remand there.

By Sonya McLean