Man convicted of smuggling $10m worth of heroin lodges appeal
A man imprisoned for 30 years after he tried to smuggle almost $10 million of heroin into Bermuda has appealed against his conviction.
Josef Vlcek was convicted in 2019 of trying to smuggle nearly three kilograms of the drug into the island on a flight from London in 2017.
But he maintained his innocence and has taken the case to the Court of Appeal.
The appeal court was scheduled to hear Vlcek’s case in an virtual session on Friday, but problems arose when he told the court through a translator that wanted a change of counsel.
The appeal panel adjourned the case until March 3 so that Vlcek would have time to find new a new lawyer.
A Supreme Court jury heard that Vlcek, originally from the Czech Republic, was arrested at the airport on September 23, 2017, after Customs officers found a bulge in the lining of his suitcase.
Officers found three packages hidden in Vlcek's two suitcases which contained a total of 2.9 kilograms of heroin.
Vlcek told officials when the packages were found: “If it's gold, it's mine. If it's drugs, it's not mine.”
He said in a police interview that he bought the suitcases in an East London market before he flew to the island from the UK and he had no idea how the packages got into his suitcases.
But Vlcek admitted during his trial he had lied to police and that the suitcases had been given to him.
He claimed that he had met two men while he was in London who offered to support his art career if he would bring packages of gold and diamonds from Johannesburg, South Africa to London.
Vlcek said he agreed and, after he returned, he was offered the flight to Bermuda as a “thank you” and was asked to transport the gold and diamonds to the island by someone who claimed to be a member of the Bermuda Government.
He added that he believed the valuables were hidden in the lining of the suitcase to prevent them from being stolen.
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