Debbie Voulgaris: Mom of Five Faces Execution by Gunshot in Taiwan for Smuggling 15lb of Cocaine in Suitcase Before Puting Blame on Ex-Husband

Though Taiwan has considered other methods such as lethal injection, executions are currently carried out by shooting with a handgun.

An Australian mother of five is facing the death penalty in Taiwan after she was caught for allegedly carrying a stash of cocaine hidden in her suitcase. Debbie Voulgaris, 57, was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport in December after drugs were allegedly found in black plastic bags inside her luggage.

Taiwanese police allege she was carrying 15 pounds of the drug, which she initially "vehemently denied" having any knowledge of. She later claimed her ex-husband John was behind the scheme, according to police, local media reports. Voulgaris's lawyer, Leon Huang, said it was "essential" for her ex to testify as he was the only person who could confirm her claims.

Too Costly a Mistake

Debbie Voulgaris
Debbie Voulgaris X

Under Taiwan's strict legal system, capital punishment remains legal despite attempts to repeal it. The death penalty can be imposed for various crimes, including murder, treason, terrorism, extreme cases of rape and robbery, and drug trafficking.

Though Taiwan has considered other methods such as lethal injection, executions are currently carried out by shooting with a handgun.

Condemned prisoners are sedated, placed face down on a mattress, and shot three times through the heart. If the prisoner has opted to donate their organs, they are executed with a single bullet to the back of the head instead.

Even if she does not receive the death penalty, the mother faces a minimum of five years in prison and could potentially be sentenced to life.

Voulgaris was allegedly given the category one drugs in Malaysia around December 10 before flying to Taiwan, according to the ABC.

The Australian mother was reportedly paid $1,800 in addition to her accommodation and transport costs to transport the drugs.

The drugs had a street value of about $1.25 million, according to Chen Po-chuan, the captain of Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Brigade.

Po-chuan said Voulgaris told authorities she was in Taiwan for a holiday.

He said officers were sent to her hotel to see if anyone would come to collect the drugs, but no one arrived. Voulgaris has been detained in a Taiwanese prison since her arrest.

No Way Out

Debbie Voulgaris
Debbie Voulgaris seen after her arrest X

Her lawyer, Leon Huang, described her as a "good-natured person" who "believed people easily" and was used as a drug "mule." "Based on her description... it appeared that number one, Ms Debbie Voulgaris was not aware of the nature of her travelling," Huang said.

"And number two, she had no idea of what's placed inside and under her luggage, because there is a hidden compartment and she wasn't aware of that."

Huang said that because his client admitted guilt early, while still maintaining she didn't know about the drugs, she might avoid the death penalty.

"If the court finds someone worthy of sympathy, like Debbie's case, typically, they would not want to offer the option of death sentence," he said.

Taoyuan District Prosecutors alleged in court documents that Voulgaris was part of a "drug transport syndicate." "Although the defendant confessed to the crime during the court's preparatory proceedings, it is noted that she had previously vehemently denied the crime during the investigation and detention interrogation by this court, and her statements have been inconsistent," the documents state.

"Notably, the defendant claimed that the co-conspirator, John, who instructed her to bring category one narcotics to Taiwan, is her ex-husband, indicating a close relationship."

In Taiwan, category one drugs refer to heroin, morphine, opium, cocaine, and their derivative products.

John's exact whereabouts are currently unknown. Huang said that the legal team was attempting to subpoena him.