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Friday, July 19, 2024

Cocaine smuggling defendant flees Bolivia

Stina Brendemo Hagen, one of three young Norwegian women sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison in Bolivia for cocaine smuggling, has disappeared after being released on bail. Both Norwegian and Bolivian authorities suspect she has fled to Brazil.

Newspapers VG and Dagbladet reported Tuesday that Hagen failed to check in with police as she was required to do. Norway’s general consulate in Bolivia confirmed they had contacted the Norwegian embassy in Brazil, where they think she may be headed.

Hagen faces a disappointment there, h0wever, because the Foreign Ministry won’t issue a new passport to someone whose original passport was seized by authorities because of a criminal offense. Norwegian authorities in Oslo have reportedly alerted other embassies in South America and told them not to issue a new passport to Hagen.

She was among a group of three young women found with 22.5 kilos of cocaine in their luggage as they were leaving Bolivia after an alleged holiday tour and heading home to Norway. One of the women fled before she was convicted and managed to get a new passport, saying she had lost her own. She then returned to Norway, and faced smuggling charges at home.

The two others have remained in prison but Hagen, initially sentenced to 13 years and four months, was released after posting NOK 350,000 worth of bail money in late July. The 21-year-old Hagen gave birth in prison to a son last year, but the baby reportedly is in Norway with Hagen’s own mother.

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