Last year, Juliana Lopez Sarrazola, a Colombian model and potential contender in the Miss World beauty contest, was caught trying to smuggle 610 grams of cocaine into Guangzhou. At the time, the case received widespread media attention and sparked a debate about China’s notorious punishment for drug crimes: the death penalty.
Fortunately for her, in the end, Sarrazola did not receive the harshest possible punishment or life imprisonment. Instead, the People’s Intermediate Court of Guangzhou sentenced her to 15 years in prison. On top of that, she has to pay a 20,000 RMB fine and is required to leave China right after serving her time, Sina reports.
During the case, Sarrazola explained her side of the story:
I wanted to compete in the Miss World beauty contest. A Colombian drug dealer named Sergio agreed to give me money if I brought a computer filled with drugs into Guangzhou and gave it to his friend, who would give me 2500 USD (16690 RMB). Accommodations and plane tickets are expensive, but he would pay for all that. The 776 USD (5180 RMB) in my luggage was from him.
Her lawyer supplemented her case by adding that Sergio threatened to kill Sarrazola’s family if she didn’t comply, SCMP reports. The court agreed that the money she would gain is minuscule compared to the amount of drugs she was smuggling.
Meanwhile, netizens have been overwhelmingly unsympathetic towards the situation.
“She could have earned a living through modeling, but she had to pick a different route,” wrote @张青.
“I thought a person smuggling over 400 grams of cocaine should be sentenced to death, why did she only get 15 years?” wondered @何建龙.
Considering China’s harsh drug laws, it does seem that Sarrazola got off easier than many. According to Amnesty International, China executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined. However, Beijing considers death penalty data a state secret, so it’s difficult to know how many were executed for drug offenses.
By Sarah Lin
[Images via Tencent]