Jail for Bolivian woman who swallowed more than 1.3kgs of cocaine before flight to Dublin

Jail for Bolivian woman who swallowed more than 1.3kgs of cocaine before flight to Dublin

A Bolivian woman who swallowed more than 1.3 kilos of cocaine before boarding a flight to Dublin has been jailed for one year.

Patricia Rea Suarez (40) put her life at risk when she ingested 41 pellets of cocaine before taking a flight from Sao Paolo, Brazil to Dublin via Lisbon, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

The mother-of-one was taken to hospital by concerned gardaí after she was arrested in Dublin airport earlier this year and spent five days being treated.

The total amount of drugs she eventually passed had a street value of €92,000.

Suarez, with an address in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, pleaded guilty to possessing drugs for sale or supply and importing illegal drugs at Dublin Airport on May 22. She has been in custody since her arrest.

Handing down sentence, Judge Martin Nolan accepted Suarez had ingested the drugs in return for €2000 cash. “Due to her poverty at the time, she involved herself in this crime out of desperation,” he said.

He accepted she was deeply remorseful, had cooperated with gardaí, has no previous convictions and would not be returning to Ireland after her release. He accepted that her separation from her 10-year-old son in Bolivia was a “further cause of trauma and difficulty” for her.

He backdated the one-year sentence to when she first went into custody. “I suspect if nothing occurs (in custody) she will be out shortly after Christmas,” he said.

Suarez wiped away tears as the sentence was handed down.

Garda Elaine Traynor told John Quirke BL, prosecuting, that Suarez was stopped by customs officers at Dublin airport who had received a confidential tip-off. Traces of cocaine were found on her phone and she was arrested.

She was hospitalised shortly afterwards, with consultants fearing the pellets would burst inside her. She suffered “severe pain” passing the 41 large pellets, the court heard.

'I've seen people killed for drugs'

Upon her release from hospital, she was interviewed by gardaí where she asked for forgiveness from the people of Ireland. She said she couldn't say who was due to meet her in Dublin airport out of fear for her family.

“I've seen people dying,” she told gardaí. “I've seen people killed for drugs.”

Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, defending, said her client came from an extremely impoverished situation and was in “desperate financial straits” when she went looking for a way to make money.

She is a single mother who previously left an abusive relationship. Her brother died three weeks prior to the offence and the family was unable to pay for the funeral, the court heard.

Once Suarez started ingesting the drugs, “she didn't have the wherewithal to refuse after three pellets, or say 'that's enough' after six,” Ms Lawlor said.

“She was then no longer a participant who could choose the course of action.”

Ms Lawlor said her client had already spent six months in custody in Ireland away from her son and had paid the penalty. “She thought she was going to die,” she said.

She urged Judge Nolan to allow Suarez to return to Bolivia immediately, but the judge rejected this.

Judge Nolan said if the circumstances of the case had been different, he would have imposed a four or five year sentence. But he accepted Suarez was a “particularly vulnerable person”.

“I'm very sympathetic,” he said. “She seems a genuine and sincere lady.”

More on this topic

Mother feared for life after adult son pushed her down stairs in most recent attackMother feared for life after adult son pushed her down stairs in most recent attack

Mercy Hospital in Cork admits security breach after radioactive pen disappeared Mercy Hospital in Cork admits security breach after radioactive pen disappeared

All rise ... from the dead. Cork judge delighted as man thought to be dead walks into courtAll rise ... from the dead. Cork judge delighted as man thought to be dead walks into court

Cork autism campaigner was verbally abused by Scientology employee, court findsCork autism campaigner was verbally abused by Scientology employee, court finds


More in this Section

Man charged over ATM thefts in Co AntrimMan charged over ATM thefts in Co Antrim

589 people are waiting on trolleys589 people are waiting on trolleys

Sports minister open to 'constructive suggestions' over possible FAI splitSports minister open to 'constructive suggestions' over possible FAI split

Three arrested in connection with Lucan murderThree arrested in connection with Lucan murder


Lifestyle

I had a stand-out lesson this week. One of those lessons that grows arms and legs, wings and tentacles.Secret Diary of an Irish teacher: They label themselves vegetarian, Liverpool fans, ‘woke’ - just not feminist

Helen O’Callaghan looks at some of the fun-filled fundraisers Irish people got involved with this year.'It’s generosity in action': Charities get inventive to spark the spirit of giving

All the latest from the entertainment world with Des O'Driscoll.Scene + Heard: Festival line-ups and new albums from Harry Styles and Stormzy

A hardworking group of local supporters are crucial in helping talented baritone Dylan Rooney fulfill his dream of studying at the Guildhall in London, writes Cathy Desmond.Community in harmony with Tipp opera singer's ambition

More From The Irish Examiner