Filipina sentenced to more than 14 years in Hong Kong jail for trafficking cocaine while pregnant

Vergara Catherine Bustillo, a 30-year-old Filipino woman, has been ordered to serve 14 years and 8 months in jail by Hong Kong’s High Court.

Bustillo, who pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking dangerous drugs when she was pregnant, gave birth to a baby boy in custody while awaiting sentencing.

On Feb. 2 she was found carrying 1.3 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of HKD1.77 million, reports the SCMP.

Bustillo told the court that a woman gave her a suitcase with a small bag inside before she boarded the plane, saying she would collect it in Hong Kong the next day.

Mr Justice Kevin Zervos expressed during sentencing that he believes Bustillo is an intelligent woman, and he therefore can’t comprehend why she would take such a risk.

He pointed out that the Filipina would miss the chance to see her son grow up, insisting, “I have been as lenient as possible.”

Zervos said that he considered the hardships the 30-year-old had been through, and pointed out that he could have given her a 16-year sentence considering the large quantity of drugs.

“I hope your faith and beliefs will carry you through while you are in custody,” the judge said.

Bustillo, a customer service representative for a software company based in Manila, said she had come to Hong Kong to purchase baby clothes and visit a church.

Female inmates in Hong Kong are allowed to take care of their babies for three years. Bustillo informed the court, however, that she plans to send her son back to the Philippines to live with his father.

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