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Canadian jailed for smuggling cocaine

A man who tried to smuggle nearly $250,000 worth of cocaine into Bermuda was jailed for 7½ years yesterday.

Raza Mirza was caught as he came through customs at LF Wade International Airport with the drugs hidden in the lining of his bag.

Mirza, 22, arrived in Bermuda from Canada on June 9 this year.

He was questioned by customs officers and claimed he had come to the island for “the carnival”.

Authorities carried out forensic checks on his Samsonite bag, which showed the presence of cocaine.

A search revealed five ziplock bags of cocaine in the lining of the case.

Further analysis confirmed that the bags contained nearly one kilogram of cocaine with a street value of $233,000.

Police later trawled through the Canadian national’s mobile phones, which contained several references to drugs. In one exchange, an individual called Andrew asked him: “Do you move white?”

Mirza replied: “Yes.”

Mirza had earlier pleaded guilty to the importation of drugs.

He told the court: “This was a really big mistake. I don’t know what I was thinking. I am really sorry for what I have done.

“My family is now having to deal with it all now and my mom is very sick.

“It was sheer stupidity. I was not thinking about what I was doing.”

The court heard that Mirza had no previous convictions in Bermuda or Canada.

Mirza’s lawyer Vaughan Caines told the court his client took full responsibility for his actions and stood before the court “contrite and embarrassed”.

Mr Caines said: “Here is a young man who was cash-strapped at the time and needed the money.

“He ultimately is sorry for his actions and his desperate attempt to make income.”

Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said the number of drug importation cases was “disturbing”.

He added: “One really wonders if the message of the court is being sent out to other offenders.

“The court must however continue to mete out sentences which send a clear and unequivocal message.”

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