A Columbian model who reportedly smuggled drugs into China could now face the death penalty.
Juliana Lopez, 22, originally went to China to collect clothing, accessories and other souvenirs that she could sell at home, according to Lopez’s friend Lis Hernandez.
However, when the beauty pageant winner arrived she was detained for allegedly smuggling psychoactive drugs in her computer into the country. She was arrested on July 18 at the Guangzhou airport, according to Columbian newspaper El Tiempo.
The crime is punishable in China by life in prison and even death, the NY Daily News reported.
When Lopez did not return to compete in the Miss World Medellin pageant and her family was unable to contact her, they called the Columbian embassy and learned of Lopez’s arrest.
“My heart tells me she is not guilty,” Hernandez told El Tiempo. “You cannot condemn it yet, I have hope that she is innocent and everything is clear.”
Alejandro Duque, the coach of a local soccer team Lopez plays for, argued that Lopez is “a good girl,” a student at the University of San Buenaventura and a model. Duque added that Lopez has always been committed to her soccer team.
The Colombian Foreign Ministry has apparently provided legal assistance to Lopez and her family through her mother Nubia Sarrazola.
“We work to ensure the preservation of the rights of private individuals and the right to a proper defense and the presumption of innocence,” a spokesperson for the CFM said.
Despite the assistance, China police investigations sometimes take around six months to two years to complete, according to the Daily Mail. It’s believed that there will be little contact allowed between Lopez and her family during that time.
China executes the highest number of people of any country annually. About 90 percent of prisoners in Chinese jails have been linked to drug-related crimes.
Photo Credit: NY Daily News, Daily Mail