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.

"/> 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.

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DRUGS

Debt-hit Spanish teen caught smuggling cocaine

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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DRUGS

Switzerland green lights recreational marijuana trial

Switzerland’s National Council has approved a plan to start cannabis trials for recreational use. If it is to be legalised however, the government says it must be organic and grown locally.

Switzerland green lights recreational marijuana trial
Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP

The study, which was approved by the National Council on Tuesday, hopes to find out more about the effects that a controlled legalisation of the drug would have in Switzerland. 

The decision to embark upon the trial was to be made in March but was delated due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The experiments are to be carried out in Switzerland’s larger cities. Basel, Bern, Biel, Geneva and Zurich have all expressed interest in conducting the trials. 

The study wants to understand how the market for cannabis works – and how to combat the black market. The social effects of legalisation are also set to be studied. 

“The models must be tested before starting the debate on whether or not to liberalise cannabis,” said Pierre-Yves Maillard (Social Democrats), a spokesperson for the responsible committee. 

Only people who currently use cannabis – and can prove it – will be allowed to participate. Proof will be determined through a hair sample. 

‘Organic and Swiss’

Although legalisation is not a foregone conclusion, the National Council added that if cannabis was to be legalised it must be locally grown in Switzerland – and must be organic. 

Minister of Health Alain Berset said that a legalisation should benefit Swiss farmers even though “very few producers have experience in this area”, Berset said. 

200,000 cannabis users in Switzerland

An estimated 200,000 people smoke cannabis products in Switzerland. Those in favour of the new trial argue that this shows the war on drugs has failed – and that legalisation will 

Since 2011, the sale of cannabis products containing up to one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the ingredient that makes users high – has been legal in Switzerland.

Regular strength cannabis and other associated products such as hashish are also illegal, although small amounts (less than ten grams) are decriminalised and will only attract a 100 franc on-the-spot fine. 

A poll by the World Health Organisation showed that more teenagers smoked in Switzerland than in any other European country, with 27 percent of 15 year olds having smoked at least once. 

The use of cannabis for medical purposes is also heavily restricted in Switzerland, with only one product – CBD oil – legally available for sale. 

 

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