Plans to compete in the Miss World Colombia pageant this week have unravelled for a 22-year-old contestant, who now faces drug charges in China that could lead to the death penalty.
Miss Juliana Lopez, a model, was arrested on July 18 at Guangzhou airport for allegedly smuggling psychoactive drugs in her laptop, reported the New York Daily News.
Her relatives and friends told Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that Miss Lopez had left for China two weeks ago, and is now sitting in a Chinese jail as her family desperately tries to work with international officials to help her.
Her family had lost contact with her during the trip, and only found out about the arrest after getting in touch with the embassy in China.
Miss Lopez, who runs a boutique, is known in Colombia as a television host as well as a professional football player.
Her football coach, Mr Alejandro Duque, told Colombian media that her team is planning an exhibition match to raise money for her mother and a lawyer to go to China.
According to the Daily Mail, he described Miss Lopez - who was to represent the Colombian city of Medellin in the pageant - as a good girl who was always committed to her team.
Miss Lopez's friend Lis Hernandez told the New York Daily News that Miss Lopez had gone to China to pick up clothes, accessories and other souvenirs that she could sell back home.
According to El Tiempo, the Colombian Foreign Ministry has provided legal assistance and support to Lopez.
This article was first published on July 31, 2015.
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