• Switzerland's news in English

Debt-hit Spanish teen caught smuggling cocaine

Meritxell Mir · 26 Oct 2011, 12:03

Published: 26 Oct 2011 12:31 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Oct 2011 12:03 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

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.

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Illegal immigrant dies after setting himself on fire
The victim was treated at University Hospital Zurich. Photo: University Hospital Zurich

The 45-year-old Tunisian was threatened with deportation.

Swiss government rejects call for second immigration vote
Photo: Justus Blumer/Christophe G

The Swiss government has rejected a popular initiative calling for a revote on plans to limit immigration.

Bern: companies should report salary inequality by law
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The Swiss government wants to force small companies to examine their rates of pay every four years.

Husband in custody after Orbe body identified
File photo: Bas Leenders

The deceased is a 55-year-old woman who lived in the house with her husband.

Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Report: Swiss progress slows on gender equality
File photo: David Soulivet

Globally, it will take 170 years to achieve gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Brothers go to court to stop suicide of sibling
File photo: Lisa Edmonds

Two men have filed a legal bid to prevent the Swiss assisted suicide association Exit from helping their older brother to kill himself.

Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available