Model convicted of drug smuggling in Argentina

November 4th, 2011 - 11:27 am ICT by IANS  

Buenos Aires, Nov 4 (IANS/EFE) Colombian model Angie Sanclemente Valencia was convicted here of attempting to smuggle cocaine to Spain in late 2009 and sentenced to six years and eight months in prison, judicial officials said.

The Buenos Aires court also handed down the same sentence Wednesday to Argentines Nicolas Gualco, the model’s boyfriend, and Daniel Monroy, while Venezuelan Gustavo Paez Ameses was sentenced to six years and two months behind bars for attempted drug smuggling, the officials said.

Argentine Ariel Letizia and countrywoman Maria Noel Lopez Iglesias were each given three-year suspended sentences, while Micaela Sansalone was acquitted.

The Colombian model’s defense team had asked the court Wednesday to acquit her of the charges, arguing that the 31-year-old defendant was not the organization’s “international nexus”.

It also requested that, if found guilty, she be convicted only of covering up the crime.

Prosecutor Sandra Benavente had asked the court Tuesday to sentence the Colombian woman to five years in prison, but the court handed down a longer sentence.

Sanclemente, jailed at a women’s lockup outside Buenos Aires since May 2010, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment last month.

“I didn’t come here to commit a crime. I’m no drug trafficker. I never thought that Nico (referring to Nicolas Gualco) could get involved in weird stuff. All I did was make a few calls,” she testified.

According to her attorney, the model traveled to Argentina to marry Gualco and found herself a suspect after his arrest.

Gualco, for his part, acknowledged recruiting young women to smuggle cocaine to Europe, but he said his girlfriend was not involved in this activity and that he had only asked her to call Monroy when he was wanted by the authorities.

The investigation began in December 2009 after a shipment of 55 kg of cocaine bound for Europe via Mexico was discovered at the Ezeiza international airport outside Buenos Aires, authorities said.

Lopez Iglesias was arrested at the airport, while most of the remaining suspects were detained shortly afterward in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Nunez and in the city of Mar del Plata, 400 km south of the Argentine capital.

The model, who had been a fugitive for five months and changed her appearance, was arrested May 26, 2010, at a Buenos Aires hostel.

The Colombian woman was convicted based on testimony from two voice experts and from Ariel Letizia, who accused her of giving “orders” when the drug ring was packing the cocaine later discovered at the international airport.

According to prosecutors, Sanclemente arrived in Argentina with the goal of forming a large drug ring that would smuggle cocaine from the South American country to Europe via Cancun, Mexico.


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