The Larnaca criminal court on Monday sentenced a 25-year-old man to 15 years in prison for trying to smuggle more than 15 kilos of cocaine into the country.
On March 6, two parcels totalling 15 kilos and 11 grammes of cocaine were found at Amsterdam airport from where they were going to be sent to Cyprus.
The Dutch authorities informed the Cyprus drug squad which arranged a controlled delivery.
When the cocaine arrived in Cyprus on March 10 the parcels were replaced with fake packages of the same weight.
Two days later they were delivered to a block of flats in Pervolia by a courier.
The defendant paid €392.70 for the transport costs and signed the delivery form using a fake name.
He then got into the car and tried to flee when he noticed police officers, but members of the drug squad caught up with him.
When he was questioned the 25-year-old man said he was following instructions by a person whom he did not wish to name, and who allegedly told him to get the two boxes from the courier for which he would receive €2,000 or 3,000.
He added he agreed because he was unemployed and needed the money and said he knew there were drugs in the boxes but believed the content was one or two kilos of cannabis and not that large amount of cocaine.
The judge, reading out the ruling, said the defence pleaded mitigating circumstances based on the health problems of the man’s father and mother and that he had no criminal record.
In the beginning, the arrested man was allegedly willing to cooperate with police and was going to name the person who commissioned him to receive the packages, but later said he had received serious threats from dangerous persons and refrained from cooperating because he feared for his life and that of his family.
The judge stressed that courts should impose severe penalties in order to send a message to all prospective drug carriers.
“Not only drug traffickers, but also those who assist them in their criminal work, whether through trafficking or in any other way, sow destruction and despair in society.”
The reasons which led the accused to commit the offences, financial difficulties, could not excuse his actions the judge said.
“The fact that he was unemployed and would thus gain €2,000 to 3,000 is not an explanation or even an excuse. The protection of our society as well as our young fellow human beings is of paramount importance.”