Cocaine trial: Basel criminal court sentences drug lord to almost eleven years in prison

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“El Chapo Basilea”

Cocaine trafficking on a large scale: Basel criminal court sentences “pineapple dealer” to almost eleven years in prison

A Spaniard who organized an international trade in cocaine from Kleinbasel has been sentenced to ten years and nine months in prison by the Basel-Stadt criminal court. In addition, there is a 12-year expulsion from the country. Defenders will likely appeal the verdict.

The Basel narco is said to have also supplied cocaine to southern Germany. However, a number of handovers failed, for example because drug detection dogs were active at the border.

Symbolic image: Martin Ruetschi / Keystone

The judgment

The verdict was announced quickly on Friday morning: the Basel criminal court sentenced the 47-year-old Colombian-Spanish dual citizen to ten years and nine months in prison for commercial and gang cocaine trafficking and money laundering. In addition, there is a 12-year expulsion from the country. The court remains under the request of the public prosecutor, who had asked for a sentence of over 17 years. Defenders will likely appeal the verdict.

update follows…

The process preview

Since the beginning of the week, the Basel criminal court has been debating whether the 47-year-old man is a drug lord, a failed pineapple dealer or something in between. If the public prosecutor’s office requests a prison sentence of more than five years, the case in the canton of Basel-Stadt is judged by a chamber of five: in addition to the court president, there are two judges on the panel.

Most of Monday’s hearing revolved around the question of whether the evidence provided by foreign services is at all usable. However, before the much-discussed chat logs were evaluated, conventional police work led to the man’s trail. In March 2021, officers of the emergency train observed a man who came out of the then 47-year-old’s apartment on Sandgrubenstrasse and drove away in a car that had previously been parked on Mattenstrasse.

He was stopped on Feldbergstrasse with 53 grams of cocaine. More cocaine was found in his apartment in St.Johann. As usual, the 47-year-old’s visitors continued to be shadowed, three weeks later they struck: In April 2021, mobile phones were confiscated in Sandgrubenstrasse along with 92 grams of cocaine mixture, including one with the notorious chat histories of the Sky ECC service.

Three house searches and intercepted prisoner mail

After the arrest, the 47-year-old first said the phone was broken. However, after the authorities presented him with the explosive chat histories, he emphasized that the phone belonged to a friend. A week later the apartment was searched again and 27 grams of cocaine mixture was found in a camouflaged candle. From the custody, the man wrote his son a letter telling him to get certain keys from the apartment.

As a result, employees of the Narcotics and Structural Crime Unit went to the apartment for the third time, where their son ran straight into their arms: More keys were found, which led to apartments in the neighboring building and in Gartenstrasse. These were also evidently cocaine deposits.

It is astonishing that the alleged drug lord does not have a blank debt collection register and has already received social assistance. However, certain chats indicate failed deliveries and the high debts associated with them. The 47-year-old is said to have regularly delivered to southern Germany, which was almost impossible during the lockdown in spring 2020. However, many handovers have also failed for other reasons, for example because transport companies have reported that drug detection dogs are being used at the border.

The defendant also hired a private defense attorney

The man has been in custody since April 2021. In the case of such serious allegations, an accused must be defended, so the lawyer Moritz Gall was appointed as the official defender. A few months before the trial, the 47-year-old also mandated Daniel Wagner as a private defender: It is not known who financed the hourly fees of over 300 francs due as an advance.

Since the public prosecutor’s office and the court demand a single delivery address, Wagner apparently did not receive the USB stick with the controversial chat histories, which is why he applied on Monday to postpone the process. The court refused and only offered him 20 minutes to look at the data. Wagner waived and then filed a motion for bias against all five judges. This too was rejected. The Basel Court of Appeal must now deal with the application.

Whatever the verdict on Friday, it is foreseeable that the case will probably deal not only with the court of appeal but also with the federal court in Lausanne.

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