In the Media

British scientist 'caught in honeytrap' jailed for drug smuggling plot

PUBLISHED November 21, 2012

An acclaimed British scientist caught smuggling two kilos of cocaine at a South American airport has been jailed for almost five years.

Professor Paul Frampton, 68, claimed he had been duped into carrying the drugs in a honeytrap sting involving a bikini model.

But the Oxford-educated academic was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison after being convicted of drug trafficking at a court in Argentina.

Mr Frampton, originally from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was arrested in January after being stopped at Ezeiza international airport in Buenos Aires as he tried to board a plane to Peru with the large quantity of drugs in his luggage.

The cocaine was found wrapped in gift paper hidden inside the lining of his suitcase.

The divorced physicist told police he had been tricked into carrying the drugs by gangsters who posed on the internet as 32-year-old glamour model Denise Milani.

Following his arrest, he told a newspaper: "Perhaps I should have realised earlier but the fraudster was very good and very intelligent. For 11 weeks I thought I was chatting with an attractive woman."

Mr Frampton, who was teaching at the University of North Carolina, had first travelled to La Paz, Bolivia, where he thought he was going to meet Miss Milani, a former Miss Bikini World, for the first time.

He mistakenly believed he had been chatting regularly with her over the internet.

In La Paz he met a middle-aged man in a hotel who gave him the suitcase, saying it belonged to Miss Milani.

The following day he travelled to Buenos Aires and was instructed to fly to Brussels where he believed he would finally meet the model, whom he considered to be his girlfriend.

But after waiting 36 hours at the airport for her to send him an electronic ticket, he changed his mind and decided to return to the US via Peru.

Mr Frampton was convicted after prosecutor Mario Villar read the court emails and text messages the professor sent while waiting at the airport.

It was reported that they included: "I'm worried about the sniffer dogs", "I'm looking after your special little suitcase" and "In Bolivia this is worth nothing, in Europe it's worth millions".

The prosecutor also showed the court a note written by the scientist reading "1grm/200U$S. 2000grms/400000 U$S".

A source told the newspaper: "At the trial he said he had written it after being arrested, but the arrest witnesses were asked to come back to court and they denied that."

Model Miss Milani, who was completely unaware she was being used as a honeytrap, has since spoken of her shock at being dragged into the sting.

The scientist's ex-wife, Anne-Marie Frampton, 71, has described him as being "a naive fool".

They divorced four years ago after 15 years of marriage but remain close friends.

Mr Frampton, who graduated with a double first from Brasenose College, Oxford, is expected to serve his sentence at Villa Devoto Prison in Buenos Aires.

The jail was the scene of some of the worst riots in Argentine history in 1978 which left 62 people dead.

The scientist was originally held there on remand but had been released and under house arrest for health reasons. He suffers from high blood pressure and lung problems.

He had been facing up to 16 years behind bars.

His defence lawyer Eduardo Oderigo said: "There were many good reasons to have acquitted him. I set them out in his defence. I am convinced of his innocence."