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Sharon Armstrong sentenced for cocaine smuggling in Argentina

Saturday 24 Mar 2012 4:24 p.m.

By Alison Harley

A Wellington woman in jail in Argentina has been found guilty of smuggling cocaine and sentenced to almost five years in jail.

Watch an interview with Sharon Armstrong speaking from prison last year

Sharon Armstrong's family talks about her arrest

Sharon Armstrong was a former deputy chief executive of the Maori Language Commission and was heading to London to meet her internet boyfriend who had asked her to travel via Argentina and pick up a weighty paper contract for him.

But when she got to customs she got a shock.

“They lifted the bottom of the bag up and I immediately saw there were three packages that were wrapped in masking tape,” says Armstrong.

Customs officials found more than five kilograms of cocaine in her luggage.

Her family have said she was conned, and had no idea she was carrying drugs - she trusted her boyfriend.

“[He was a] very handsome black man, and looked very nice, really friendly, warm,” says Armstrong.

Overnight a distinguished British scientist was caught with two kilos of cocaine in Buenos Aires, and he too claims he was conned into carrying packages through Argentina by internet friends.  

Newspaper reports in Argentina say the judge believed Sharon Armstrong had been tricked and sentenced her to almost the minimum sentence possible, 4 years and 10 months in jail.

She will be eligible for parole next year.

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