Authorities in Antigua and Barbuda discovered 74 cocaine-filled pallets hidden in the abdomen of a 40-year-old Venezuelan man. Renzo Eduardo Sanoja arrived at V.C. Bird International Airport via an InterCaribbean flight in Guyana with a stop in Barbados.
Suspicion arose upon his arrival in Antigua that afternoon, prompting an investigation by police and customs officers. With the help of a customs officer who spoke both languages, they got Sanoja’s approval for a search. However, it wasn’t until he was transported to a nearby hospital, where an X-ray was performed, that they discovered the 74 hidden pellets in his stomach.
Over two days, he expelled pellets containing an unidentified white substance later confirmed to be cocaine. The total weight of cocaine was 907 grams or two pounds, with an estimated street value of EC$63,236. A discovery led to multiple charges against Sanoja, including possession and importation of cocaine, being concerned with the supply of cocaine, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to transfer.
At his court appearance in the All-Saints Magistrates Court, Sanoja pleaded guilty to all charges except the last one, which was later dismissed. Sanoja claimed that he had been coerced into smuggling the drugs under the threat of harm to his family.
Taking into consideration the drug possession charge, Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel reprimanded and discharged Sanoja.
However, Sanoja was sentenced to a cumulative 19 months in His Majesty’s Prison for the remaining offences.