bangladesh (3/6)

The drama-documentary series that tells the gripping real-life stories of travellers detained overseas continues. This week’s instalment follows the story of Texas teen Lia McCord, who travelled to Bangladesh to retrieve a haul of heroin. Her plans to put the $20,000 payment towards a university education were dashed when she was captured and thrown into a Dhaka prison. She narrowly escaped the death penalty but was handed down a life sentence.

In 1992, 18-year-old Texan Lia McCord was looking forward to a bright future and had dreams of attending business school. But financial pressures meant that the A-grade student had to resort to modelling lingerie. One night, her best friend, Cindy, was propositioned by a customer in the strip club where she worked as a waitress. The stranger offered her a trip to Bangladesh and $10,000 cash payment in return for the safe delivery of a stash of diamonds. Aware that her friend was strapped for cash, Cindy passed on the offer to Lia.

The curious teen met with Cindy’s contact over lunch to learn more about the deal. Lia was shocked to hear that she would not be picking up jewels at all but heroin. Sensing her discomfort, the man increased the payment twofold. After serious consideration, the offer of $20,000 was too good for Lia to turn down.

Soon after making her decision, Lia was catapulted into the madness of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. But when she met with Tony, the dealer in charge of organising the delivery, Lia panicked. Tony’s violent and unhinged personality scared her and brought the grim reality of the situation to the fore. With her flight back to the States due to take off in a matter of hours, Lia was supposed to meet Tony in the lobby of her hotel.

Instead, she hatched a getaway plan that would allow her to board the plane home without going through with the deal. The fire escape provided a perfect exit route, but Lia took a wrong turn and came face to face with Tony. Realising what Lia was doing, the thug seized her passport and took her back to his lodgings. Lia had no choice but to allow herself to be fitted with seven pounds of pure heroin.

At Zia International Airport, the final boarding call for Lia’s flight was being made. As time ticked by, Lia rushed to the toilets to try to remove the drugs from her torso. But Tony had taped the stash too tightly and Lia was forced to go through customs or risk missing her passage home altogether. But luck was not on her side. All of the passengers were undergoing body checks and Lia was busted.

Taken in for questioning by police, Lia was assured release if she could lead authorities to the drug dealer. Tony was located and identified, but the police did not make good on their promise. Lia was convicted and thrown into prison. During her trial, the Bangladeshi authorities sought the maximum penalty of death by hanging. But as the judge believed she was only a novice smuggler, Lia got off more lightly –with a 30-year sentence.

Conditions in prison were basic and Lia could have easily sunk into a deep depression. However, she made the most of the dark experience, learning to speak Bengali and forming friendships with fellow inmates. After four years of incarceration, Lia’s plight came to the attention of Congressman Bill Richardson. In Bangladesh on a diplomatic mission, Richardson had experience working with nationals imprisoned abroad. With a new Bangladeshi president in office, the timing was right to negotiate a release. In July 1996, Lia McCord was granted a pardon and was free to return home to America.

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  • Anonymous

    I am now watching this soon to be career criminal,crying croc tears and blaming everyone but herself.
    She claims to have been a A student, Always honest, and a model.
    First off, If she’s a model, Then I’m the fricken queen.She tried to rip off the dealer, rip off the hotel and she still insists everyone else is to blame.
    If you listen to her, She knows all the lingo for the drug trade. I highly doubt this was her first, Or her last crime. She refuses to take any responsibility for her actions. The Sen. that went to bat for her release should be shot or at the very least held responsible for drug crimes in Texas.
    My only satisfaction in this case is that she is a criminal, she will
    thumb her nose at the law again, She will get caught again and this time I hope she go’s away for a long time. One less chance some little kid will be approached to be sold drugs.

    The real kick is she is now making money doing shows about it.
    Where is the justice?

  • Australia Anonymous

    Drugs keep many government workers in jobs. So there will never be any recognition of the fact that drugs are a medical problem. Drug takers need help, not punishment. Give them what they need, then try to rehabilitate them.

  • Sam

    the woman who plays her is FIT!!!

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