Vietnam sentences Russian woman to life in jail for smuggling cocaine

By Hai Duyen   May 4, 2018 | 05:17 pm PT
Vietnam sentences Russian woman to life in jail for smuggling cocaine
Maria Aleksandr Dapirka awaits verdict for drug smuggling at a trial in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
She was busted with five pounds of the drug when transiting for a flight from Brazil to Laos.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced a Russian woman to life imprisonment on Friday for smuggling cocaine through Vietnam, sparing her capital punishment as her lawyer defended that she was just a victim.

Maria Aleksandr Dapirka, 32, narrowly escaped death as proposed by prosecutors after her lawyer successfully argued that she was duped into being a drug mule for an international ring.

According to the indictment, Dapirka was working as a furniture designer in Thailand when she met a Nigerian man named Mathew Chili, or Nick, around March 2014 and agreed to go traveling with him.

In late July 2014, Nick gave Dapirka $1,000 and a flight ticket to Sao Paulo, Brazil, but did not accompany her on the trip. Half a month later, he then asked her to bring him a bag from his friend in Brazil and booked her a flight to Laos.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs detained Dapirka on August 23, 2014 while she was transiting in Ho Chi Minh City with the bag she had received from Nick's friend.

Upon searching her luggage, customs officials discovered more than 2.2 kilograms (4.9 pounds) of cocaine hidden inside a laptop bag and the covers of two magazines.

At the trial, the Russian woman claimed she was unaware of the cocaine.

Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or cocaine or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine could face the death penalty.

The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.

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