Cocaine trial 'like a crime thriller'
THE arrest of a pensioner found with £500,000 of cocaine at Bristol Airport prompted an investigation bearing the hallmarks of a globe-trotting crime thriller, a jury heard.
Jose Sekulitis-Gomez, 73, was found with 4kg of the Class A drug secreted in the lining of his trolley bag, Bristol Crown Court was told.
An inquiry mounted by the UK Border Agency led to an accomplice believed to have successfully smuggled drugs into the airport the day before – who was arrested but released and then faked his death – and mysterious USA-based crime network WTB Manpowers, said to be controlling both men.
Gomez, of Branganza in Madrid, denies conspiracy to import controlled drugs into England and Wales as well as an alternative charge of importing a controlled drug.
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Mark Hollier, opening the prosecution case, said Gomez arrived at Bristol Airport at 4pm on a flight from Dakar in Senegal, via Brussels.
Having walked through the green "nothing to declare" channel, he was stopped by customs officers and three packages of cocaine were found hidden inside panels in his case.
The court heard customs officers also scanned a glasses case found on him, which showed traces of cocaine inside.
Mr Hollier told the jury: "The prosecution case is that he is a knowing courier, that he knew exactly what was hidden in his suitcase. The defence case is that he is an innocent, unwitting courier with no knowledge of the contents of his suitcase."
When Gomez was interviewed he said he had been to the Gambia to get some winter sun with a friend called Jose Luis Calvo Serra.
He told how they had got a guide, who accompanied them by ferry and car to neighbouring Senegal, to see Dakar.
Gomez explained that the case in which the drugs were found was the same luggage he had from Spain, and had been left unattended in the Gambia when he went to the beach.
The case continues.