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Colombian mother imprisoned for 2½ months

A Colombian woman has been sentenced to 2½ months in prison for having cash that she knew to be the proceeds of crime.

Eliana Medina, 29, pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing $9,387 that represented the proceeds of criminal conduct when she appeared in Magistrates' Court this morning.

Medina was apprehended at LF Wade International Airport on December 17, having arrived on the Island as a visitor three days earlier.

Prosecutor Cindy Clarke told the court that Medina was attempting to board a flight to Miami, where she is a student, when she was stopped by customs officers.

She said that Medina had declared $2,000 in items and $2,000 in cash on her customs declaration card.

The $9,387 was revealed when customs officers searched her person and her luggage.

Bundles of high-value Bermuda and US currency were recovered from a journal, a knapsack, a folder and her wallet.

A further four bundles of cash were subsequently recovered from Medina's ankle boots.

Ms Clarke requested an immediate prison sentence of six to nine weeks.

Defence lawyer Dante Williams asked for her sentence to be time spent in custody, with any remaining time suspended.

Medina, who required an interpreter, begged for compassion. “I know it wasn't right what I did,” she said. “Please let me go and see my daughter. I am very sorry, I will never do it again.

“Please have compassion and let me see my daughter.”

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo took into account her guilty plea, that she has no previous convictions in Bermuda, the amount of cash that was seized, Medina's remorse and co-operation, and her consent to forfeit the money.

He added that the seriousness of this offence could not be ignored and that a suspended sentence would not be appropriate.

He sentenced Medina to prison, with time already spent in custody taken into account.

As this offence was indictable, the case was originally supposed to be heard in Supreme Court, but it was allowed to proceed in Magistrates' Court.

•Two visitors were charged with possessing $142,287 in cash, which they knew to be the proceeds of crime, when they also appeared in Magistrates' Court this morning.

Denia Gutiérrez Rojas, 29, and Carlos Eduardo Melendez Jiminez, 27, of Costa Rica, were not required to enter a plea because the offence is indictable and can be heard only in Supreme Court.

Prosecutor Susan Mulligan told the court that the offence occurred between December 24 and 28.

The pair, who are considered to be a flight risk, were remanded into custody by Mr Tokunbo until January 14 when the matter will return to the courts for mention.

• It is The Royal Gazette's policy not to allow comments on stories regarding active court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.

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Published December 31, 2014 at 3:57 pm (Updated December 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm)

Colombian mother imprisoned for 2½ months

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