Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Smuggler has jail baby

Spanish drug trafficker gives birth while on remand in Auckland prison.

Ivan Casal-Carmona, Cristina Guerrero-Nieto and David Beltran-Velez at Manukau District Court. Photo / Doug Sherring
Ivan Casal-Carmona, Cristina Guerrero-Nieto and David Beltran-Velez at Manukau District Court. Photo / Doug Sherring

A Spanish drug trafficker has given birth while in custody after attempting to smuggle up to half a million dollars worth of cocaine into New Zealand.

Cristina Guerrero-Nieto delivered the baby last month. At the time, the 26-year-old chef was on remand at Auckland Women's Prison in Manukau after being caught in transit at Auckland International Airport on November 5 with 1.5kg of cocaine dissolved in clothes and towels inside her bag.

On Friday last week Guerrero-Nieto, David Beltran-Velez, 26, and Ivan Casal-Carmona, 33, admitted importing the cocaine and will be sentenced in the Manukau District Court on August 11.

The men, also from Spain, were found to have 1.7kg and 1.8kg of cocaine dissolved into clothes and towels in their baggage in what Crown prosecutor Nick Webby said was the first case of its kind in New Zealand.

"It's novel. It's actually never been imported into the country in this way before. Overseas, yes, but not here."

Despite the methods, he described the trio as "pretty simple people from a village in Spain".

The current street value in New Zealand for a gram of cocaine is between $250 and $400.

In overseas cases, clothing has been soaked in water filled with cocaine powder to make the drug stick to them, but Webby did not know how the Spanish dissolved their cocaine.

A drug dog detected cocaine in their luggage after they arrived in Auckland on LAN Airlines flight 801 from Santiago, Chile.

They were waiting to board a flight to New Caledonia.

Webby and the trio's defence counsel, David Niven, later agreed on an estimated weight of the cocaine because it would be expensive to extract, Webby said.

Both Webby and Niven confirmed Guerrero-Nieto had given birth while in custody.

Niven said he did not know the baby's gender or if it was in Guerrero-Nieto's care behind bars.

He would not say who the baby's father was. The Herald on Sunday has seen Guerrero-Nieto holding hands with Beltran-Velez while in the dock.

A Corrections Department spokeswoman would not say if Guerrero-Nieto's baby was in her care. Children may remain in the care of their jailed mothers in self-contained units at the country's three womens' prisons until the child is 2, the spokeswoman said.

Four children are currently living with their mothers, she said.

Webby said Guerrero-Nieto, Beltran-Velez and Casal-Carmona could be jailed for up to 20 years.

Department of Internal Affairs spokesman Michael Mead said the baby will not be a citizen unless one parent is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

An application for citizenship can be made after the child has lived here for five years. The Immigration Minister could also use discretion to grant citizenship in special circumstances, Mead said.

Immigration spokesman Marc Piercy said the department "wouldn't deport a child without its parents".

- Herald on Sunday

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