19 years jail, €35,000 fine for couple who imported 15 kilograms of cocaine

A Belgian couple has been jailed after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, importing, distributing and possessing cocaine

A Belgian couple has been jailed for 19 years and fined €35,000 after they admitted to importing a total of 15 kilograms of cocaine into Malta and trafficking earlier this year.

51-year-old Carine Donckers and 46-year-old Johnny Jos Haest pleaded guilty to the charges to avoid a trial by jury.

The couple were apprehended in Msida, shortly after their arrival on a catamaran from Pozzallo, Sicily, in June.

 Police officers followed them to their hotel and observed the couple switching vehicles before driving away.

After stopping their car near Msida, police found the drugs stashed inside the vehicle.

Two Maltese men were also arrested in the course of the police operation.

The arrests were the culmination of 10 months of intense police work, involving both Maltese and Belgian police forces.

Haest and Donckers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, importing, distributing and possessing cocaine.

The couple, who have no fixed address in Malta, also admitted to having, during the month of April, conspired with others to import and deal cocaine and cannabis grass, as well as aggravated possession of the two substances.

The cocaine was of 55% purity.

Aside from the 10kg of drugs discovered upon their arrival from Sicily, the pair admitted to having imported and sold another five kilograms in April, without being detected by the police.

They were expecting to make €20,000 for the two deliveries.

In its sentence, the Criminal Court, presided by judge Edwina Grima said it could not ignore the fact that on two separate occasions, the accused agreed to import large amounts of drugs into Malta, causing great harm to society and the young.

On the other hand, the court also noted that the couple filed an early admission and had cooperated with the police, helping them arrest and prosecute other Maltese persons involved in the drug trafficking ring.

This fact spared them the maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

However the pair did not get off lightly.

Donckers and Haest were handed 19-year prison sentences and fined €35,000, which would translate into another year of incarceration if unpaid.

The court also ordered the seizure and confiscation of all movable and immovable property belonging to the couple, as well as the destruction of the drugs. 

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