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Debt-hit Spanish teen caught smuggling cocaine

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12:31 CEST+02:00

Driven to desperation by the financial crisis, a mother and her son agreed to transport 600 grams of cocaine to pay their bills in Madrid, but were caught in Geneva before finishing the job.

The 16-year-old Spanish boy swallowed 50 balls of cocaine at the request of his mother. The €2,000 ($2,787) they would have earned from the deal was earmarked to pay for their electricity and gas bills, La Tribune de Genève reports.

Later investigations concluded that the version given by the two amateur drug dealers was true. The teenager has been handed an eight-month suspended sentence by Geneva’s youth court and deported to Madrid. His mother is in prison at Champ-Dollon as she awaits her criminal court trial.

According to public prosecutor Gaëlle Van Hove, investigations to establish the identity of others involved in the scheme are still ongoing. However, Van Hove admitted to the Geneva paper that this was one of the "most difficult" narcotics cases she has ever had to deal with.

The feeling is shared by the Spanish citizens' lawyers, Ferida Bejaoui Hinnen and Endri Gega, who said both mother and son had cried during the hearings. “We are really dealing with a situation of human misery,” they said.

"My client is not a dishonest person,” Hinnen said, explaining that when the mother was asked to transport the drugs to Switzerland, she was at the end of her tether and did not know what else she could do about her desperate financial situation.

According to the lawyer, she could not swallow the drugs herself because she was sick. Then her son, moved by the suffering of his mother and feeling obliged to help his family, decided to do swallow the cocaine balls.

After losing her job, the defendant, unable to service her mortgage, was evicted from her flat in Madrid, but still had to pay monthly instalments to the bank. Under Spanish law people evicted from their homes must continue to make mortgage payments.

The family moved into the flat of the woman’s mother, who lives with a disabled sister-in-law. All six people living in the flat had to survive on €1,000 ($1,400) a month, the sum total of the pensions brought in by the grandmother and the disabled woman.

The judge in charge of the teenager's case asked International Social Services to investigate the defendants' story and found that “it was all true,” said Gega.

The public prosecutor said she acknowledges the family's dire financial situation but added that “the end does not justify the means, and this mother put her son’s life in danger.”

“I am shocked, astonished. I am convinced that there are other ways to fix such a difficult situation,” she told La Tribune de Genève.

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