A Filipina domestic helper was freed from nine months of detention June 4, after the prosecution withdrew a charge of drug trafficking against her for receiving a drug parcel sent last year from Ecuador by her online boyfriend.
Michelle Mardo, a 41-year-old mother of three, was speechless when the prosecutor told Kowloon City Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan that the charge of “trafficking in a dangerous drug” against her was being withdrawn.
But she reportedly told prison chaplain Fr. John Wotherspoon afterwards that she wanted to file a claim for damages against the Customs and Excise Department for her wrongful arrest.
“Michelle has phoned me and I've put her in contact with a lawyer. I hope publicity about her case can warn others,” said the priest, who has been helping women jailed for acting as couriers, wittingly or unwittingly, for drug syndicates.
Consul Paulo Saret also welcomed the news of the acquittal, but again warned Filipinos to be wary of accepting parcels sent to them, especially by people they hardly know.
“Mabuti pa, ireport ninyo sa pulis kung duda kayo sa padala o sa nagpadala,” he added.
Saret said he has been telling newly arrived Filipina domestic workers attending post-arrival orientation seminars not to be too trusting with men they meet online or on chance encounters, as they could use them for illicit purposes.
Mardo was arrested on Sept 27 by customs officers, one of whom was disguised as a UPS delivery man, after accepting the parcel containing nearly 300 grams of pure cocaine.
The drug was found hidden between layers of four wooden boxes sent via air mail to Mardo’s Yuen Long address.
Earlier, on Mar 14, another Filipina maid was freed four months after taking delivery of a parcel which turned out to contain ketamine tablets. Prosecutors also withdrew a drug trafficking charge against her.
Calin Baybayan was fetched from the West Kowloon court after her release by her employer, who also retained her services.