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Court hears of Felixstowe drugs haul

PUBLISHED: 13:00 08 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:52 03 March 2010

CUSTOMS officers at Felixstowe who searched two men as they left a boat berthed at the Port discovered they were carrying cocaine worth £900,000, a court has heard.

CUSTOMS officers at Felixstowe who searched two men as they left a boat berthed at the Port discovered they were carrying cocaine worth £900,000, a court has heard.

The observant officers noticed that Columbians Xavier Bermudez-Botero and Jorge Gomez both looked bulkier when they left the Nedlloyd Clement than they did half an hour earlier when they boarded the vessel, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

When the men were searched they were both found to be wearing black body vests into which a total of 16 slabs of cocaine had been sewn, said Lindsay Cox prosecuting.

The slabs contained 7.04 kilograms of pure cocaine with a street value of just under £900,000 said Mr Cox.

Bermudez-Botero, 28, and Gomez, 30, both of London have denied being involved in smuggling the cocaine through Felixstowe in August last year.

Also before the court are three Indonesian crew members of the Nedlloyd Clement who have denied the charge. They are Richard Bernardus, 27, Isitiyarto Iskandar, 37 and Yayang Mardianus 45.

Mr Cox said that after his arrest Bermudez-Botero admitted knowingly being in possession of drugs. He said he had been given them by a Nedlloyd Clement crew member and said three crew members had been paid cash for the drugs which come from Columbia. He said he expected to get £10,000 for his part in the smuggling.

Gomez also said that as far as he was aware he was carrying cocaine in the body vest he was wearing when he was stopped by customs officers.

Bernardus admitted that Bermudez-Botero and Gomez had been to see him on the boat and he had given them the body vests.

Iskandar admitted being a courier for the drugs and said he expected to be paid 3,000 dollars a kilo.

He said that when he saw the Columbian defendants being arrested as they left the boat he had thrown packages containing the money for the drugs overboard.

Mardianus said he wasn't sure if the body vests contained drugs or not.

Mr Cox said that all the defendants apart from Bernardus claimed they were acting under duress when they became involved in smuggling the drugs.

He said Bernardus claimed he didn't know the drugs were in the vest when he handed them over to the Columbians.

The trial continues.


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