South African who tried to export cocaine through Changi Airport jailed 26 years, caned

·Senior Reporter
(Getty Images file photo)
(Getty Images file photo)

SINGAPORE — A South African national was sentenced to 26 years’ jail and 15 strokes of the cane on Wednesday (9 October) for attempting to export 177 pellets containing cocaine through Singapore’s Changi Airport in July last year.

Andrew John Marsland, 49, was searched by the authorities and found with three condoms containing nine pellets each and another 150 pellets concealed within compartments in his shorts. The pellets contained at least 1.617kg of cocaine.

He pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to export the pellets from Singapore, containing not less than 2.303kg of powdery substance which contained no less than 29.99g of cocaine, on 31 July 2018 at about 10.40am. A person who is convicted of attempting to export more than 30g of cocaine faces capital punishment.

For his current charge, Marsland could have been jailed between 20 and 30 years, or imprisoned for life, and caned 15 stokes of the cane.

Marsland was recruited by a person in South Africa for drug delivery jobs. He was promised US$2,000 (S$2760.90) for each successful job. He had completed four successful jobs delivering drugs across borders before he was caught - on his fifth and final job.

On 24 July last year, Marsland arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil to collect the drugs. Although initially informed to fly from Sao Paulo to Phnom Penh, Cambodia through Zurich and Singapore, his destination was changed to Phuket, Thailand later.

Four days later, Marsland collected the drugs in a paper bag left in the toilet of a Sao Paulo restaurant by a Nigerian man. He checked the contents of the paper bag later and found the customised shorts, which contained 150 pellets, some wraparounds, and three condoms each containing nine pellets. He knew the pellets contained cocaine.

Marsland then wore the customised shorts with the 150 pellets, used the wraparounds to wrap around his waist and wore cyclist tights over the layers. He then squeezed the three condoms each containing nine pellets between his skin and the customised shorts before donning a pair of long trousers.

After flying through Zurich, he arrived in Terminal 3 of Changi Airport on 31 July last year, at about 6.38am. Due to the change of plans, he was informed that he would have to arrange to transfer the luggage in Singapore by himself. Upon his arrival in Singapore, he was told that it would take him two hours to collect his luggage.

Marsland then realised that he would miss his Jetstar flight from Singapore to Phuket, which would depart at 8.15am. Marsland then cleared immigration and exited the transit area. He returned at about 10am to collect his luggage bags. He then took a shuttle bus to Terminal 4 and bought an AirAsia ticket for a one-way flight from Singapore to Phuket.

At about 10.40am, Marsland went to the centralised screening area for security checks, which included the use of a body scanner. Fearing that the drugs on his body will be detected, Marsland lied to the Aviation Security Officer that he could not go through the body scanner as he had a pacemaker. The officer allowed Marsland to go past the gantry without walking through the body scanner.

The officer then performed a security pat-down on Marsland and felt hard objects surrounding his waist. Marsland claimed his waist was thicker as he was wearing shorts inside. After another pat-down, Marsland was escorted to the Search Room in the Centralised Screening Area of the Departure Area in Terminal 4 and the drugs were discovered.

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