Paul Frampton drug case could take years to resolve.

Particle physicist Paul Frampton is in an Argentinian jail after allegedly being caught trying to leave the country with drugs concealed in his suitcase. He claims he was not aware of the drugs and has “plenty of evidence” but any optimism he may have for a quick release is likely to fade slowly. The case is eerily reminiscent of  New Zealander Sharon Armstrong who was caught in Argentina in April last year in very similar circumstances. Her trial began seven months later. She is still there and the case could take years and lots of legal fees to settle. Frampton could be in for a similar ordeal.

Everyone passing through international airports will know that they must pack their own bags and be responsible for the contents. Travellers are continually warned and asked about it. It is easy to be befriended especially in honeypot traps. The details of how Frampton may have been tricked are not yet known but similar stories are well-known. Cases have even been turned into films such as Bangkok Hilton. It will be hard for an intelligent professor to persuade his prosecutors that he was naive enough to innocently accept to use a suitcase with cocaine stuffed into the padding. We wish him luck.

For other reports see NEW and TRF.

Update 22-Mar-2012: The Telegraph has provided more details of the case confirming what I suspected in my first post, that he was a victim of a honey-trap. Unfortueatly this does not make things much better for him. The authorities in these countries expect people to take responsibility for the contents of the luggage they carry. Even if they believe his story of incredible gullibility he may still be considered guilty. Sharon Armstrong got four and a half years even though they accepted her similar story. The Argentinians do not have much sympathy for the English at a time when cruise liners are being turned away from Argentinian ports because they have visited the Falklands Islands. Argentina sees the Islands as poorly defended by the British Navy and may try to take advantage, leading to a worsening of relations between the countries.  Frampton has not made his situation better by initially refusing to talk and then attacking his employer back home for cutting off his salary. He will need some very good friends to help him if he wants to keep his sentence as short as possible.

Framptons prospects for bail will have taken a nosedive following the news that the High Court in London has blocked the extradition of Lucy Wright this week. The heavily pregnant drug mule who had admitted her attempt to smuggle 6kg of cocaine skipped bail in Argentina and fled the country to avoid her jail sentence. It seems unlikely that the Argentinian authorities will now risk giving the same chamce to Frampton.

In the circumstances I am afraid to say that Frampton should consider himself lucky if his eventual sentence is nearer the lower end of the 6 to 16 years given for this offence. They may well decide to make an example of him and make it much longer. Given his age and doubtful mental health it is not obvious that he could survive the conditions for that long. I only hope that he can find a legal team and enough good friends to help improve his chances.

25 Responses to Paul Frampton drug case could take years to resolve.

  1. BigBangDrug says:

    However, the particle theory of Big Bang IS cocaine stuffed.

  2. Lubos Motl says:

    Interesting, this Sharon Armstrong. She claims that she was attracted from New Zealand to Argentina and duped by an “Internet lover”:

    A reader on my blog says that Paul went to visit a “model”. A pattern may be emerging.

  3. Anonymous says:

    In another case, a feminist ex-wife put drug in the baggage of her former husband and called the police to get him arrested in front of the child.

    Luckily something went wrong and at the end she was found guilty.

  4. carla says:

    This is just plain nonsense. Do they seriously believe that a 68 year old man with an intellect of a respected physicist, would believe a young model would be romantically interested in him?

    • Dr. Pablito says:

      Physicists are not immune to the kind of ordinary wishful thinking that happens to every other kind of human being. The simplest explanation seems to be that he was drawn in to the silliest type of scam — taking advantage of male vanity — and duped into ferrying stuff to the US, where it would be picked up by someone else. And any international traveller is thoroughly aware that it is foolish to accept any baggage belonging to someone else to ferry it across borders. Duh. Throw the book at him for rank stupidity and vanity, I say.

    • Haelfix says:

      Plenty of women are interested in older men, particularly well respected older men who have status, intellect and so forth. The 50-50 gambit about whether to believe or disbelieve is a story that is as old as time.

    • someone says:

      Of course they should believe it. He is the sort of person who might fall for that trap, naively believing that being a respected physicist has the same sort of cache as being say the lead singer of U2 would.

      And put a pretty face out there and many guys brains can go to mush and they can fall easy prey to wishful thinking. Most are not quite naive to that level, but hey you don’t toss people in jail for being naive. Anyway, take someone very naive about different types and natures of fame and then add in large ego and there you have it.

      In fact, before hearing anything other than he had been detained in jail down there, some people’s first or second guess was exactly the scenario now claimed.

      Smuggling drugs just does not fit even the tiniest little bit. It is totally clear he was setup.

      There are so many stories in the news that are similar too, if you look. There have been Hollywood movies and TV and film documentaries made about such things.

      It’s probably not wise for him to start talking about departmental jealousy any more though. Even if such is the case in some scenario, it tends to not work in someone’s favor to get into that sort of thing, fair or not. But that shows even more why his story is to be believed, if anything.

      It does seem like they do need to put a bit more into getting his back though. I’m not sure it’s the sort of place that is the best at having one’s back when it comes down to it, for all the talk of Southern charm and hospitality- now is not the time to play high and mighty and tsk-tsk-tsk as this is very serious business, although it’s hard to know exactly what they are or are not doing to help.

  5. Sigmund Fraud says:

    It’s ok — he just has to show them arXiv 1004.1910 , or talk to any student at his school, and he can very very plausibly plead insanity.

  6. Nigel Cook says:

    Hi Phil, Frampton’s work is of scientific interest, although his personal history as presented in his paper is attracting a lot of criticism for non-scientific personal content, ignoring interesting scientific content.

    Frampton explains dark energy in equations 23 and 24 of that paper. Frampton in equation 23 calculates the Hawking radiating temperature for a black hole of the mass of the entire universe (treating it as a black hole), giving 3 x 10^-30 Kelvin. In equation 24, he calculates the acceleration of the universe’s effective event horizon from this 3 x 10^-30 K temperature: cosmological acceleration, a = (2*Pi*c*k*T/h-bar) = cH ~ 10^-9 m/s^2, commenting: “I arrive at a cosmic acceleration which is essentially in agreement with the observations.”

    This calculation appears to be a duality of mine, published in 1996. Frampton’s calculation is interesting, but his physical reasoning to justify it is far too sketchy. I’m including Frampton’s approach in a revised, pedalogically structured and more politically correct paper to replace my long, poorly structured Not sure if this will help his situation in Argentina, however. It’s deplorable that Frampton fell for this honey pot scam and didn’t check the contents of the suitcase, but “ignorantia juris non excusat”. Whether he was deliberately taking the suitcase and whether he was aware of what might be inside it, is irrelevant. The problem is, if people are let off for not knowing, everyone with drugs in their luggage will be able to say they didn’t know and the end result will be a bonus for the drugs smuggling industry. (The New Zealand drugs girl who is still in jail at least indicates that this is not a simple case of corrupt Argentina taking briton Frampton as a hostage on a trumped up charge, in order to gain leverage in an escalating confrontation between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands.) Some passages in Frampton’s arXiv 1004.1910v2 paper, particularly those dealing with his personal history, seem very slightly surreal. For example:

    “On the road from 1948 to 2010, I will make mercifully brief rest stops at 1957, 1965 and 2006. The first of these, 1957, is when I learned, at King Charles I School, about the universal law of gravitation. This was a key stage, because I clearly recall looking up at the Moon and feeling my own weight, and being so impressed by the idea that I decided, then and there, that I would, one day, have a grander idea, than Newton’s. At about the same time, in 1957, my French teacher recommended, to my parents, a career, as a university professor, in linguistics. I might have done that, were it not for the call of Newton. Finally, in 1957, it was a memorable year because I met, for twelve seconds in Kidderminster Town Hall, the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Having bowed, I was ready to answer absolutely any question but all she said was that it was very nice to meet me. I should have worn a sign, soliciting a royal question.”

    I think this is the reason for some criticisms. However, people with unorthodox ideas sometimes are unorthodox in other ways, such as writing style. Alternatively, people with unorthodox ideas can develop unorthodox styles in other areas of life as a result of the psychological groupthink pressure against them for simply having an unorthodox idea.

  7. Hamish says:

    Frampton is a also a US citizen, which might work in his favour.

  8. Lubos Motl says:

    BTW chances are that Paul’s friend in Argentina is one of these:

    Which one would you recommend? 😉

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      I’ll recommend number 7, who is the spitting image of my wife 🙂

      Seriously though. It is unlikely that one of these models was really involved. I would guess that either someone would impersonate one of these models or someone would just claim to be a famous model. By the way, the “friend” might not have been Argentinian unless you have more detailed info than me. Perhaps he thought he was meeting Kate Moss 🙂

      I feel bad about being so flippant. The guy is in deep trouble and I only hope he gets the miracle he needs.

    • Lubos Motl says:

      Dear Philip, seven is a cute one. Not a bad wife.

      I am afraid that they could have CGI computer-generated whole video chats with any of the women above, and maybe even a more famous one, like the Flying Dutchman.

      Being fooled online may suck. I’ve gone through ideas of Internet-created relations almost 20 years ago but it’s plausible that if Paul or someone else just discovers such things, he may be much more naive, especially because the phishing today is more sophisticated than 20 years ago.

      If there’s some organized cartel which also created the lover of the Armstrong lady from New Zealand, they should find it. Or Britain should invade Argentina – not just the islands are at stake now.

      • Marcelo R. Ubriaco says:

        Your comment about “Britain should invade Argentina” is out of place. I personally know Paul and I believe that he was fooled by some organized group of people that operates at international level. If we consider that most of the coke customers are in the US, and use the same ridiculous rational that you used in your comment, then the rest of the world should invade the US, which is equally silly to say.

      • Lubos Motl says:

        You may say that people should invade the U.S. Mainly immigrants are doing so and the leaders of Iran may be planning the same thing. 😉

        What makes my comments about invasion of Argentina by Britain more realistic is that Britain actually has some chance to smoothly beat Argentina and it has certain reasons, not necessarily focusing on Paul, why to do so.

        Your parody would only be “equally silly” to my suggestion if the Argentine army were as strong as the U.S. army. I think it’s not and the fact that you are apparently unable to see this difference is a reason to say that it is you who is being silly here.

      • Marcelo R. Ubriaco says:

        Well, let me answer and finish this argument because I have better things to do. The fact that the British army is stronger than the Argentine one, which already was shown in 1982 does not exclude the fact that your comment is very naive and your reply therefore very irrational. May be I am being silly in trying to make you understand something that obviously cannot.So keep your blog open and goodbye!!

      • Lubos Motl says:

        I just said that Argentina should investigate its own criminals and avoid punishment of innocent people e.g. from the British Commonwealth and if the country were causing too much trouble that affects the citizens of the U.K. or New Zealand or others, it’s understandable that the other countries may want to do something against the problem.

        Of course that if I ever said that Britain should invade Argentina just because of Paul, it would be meant jokingly – however I find it unacceptable for an innocent person, and especially Paul, to be arrested. However, there are many genuine “big picture” reasons why Argentina may be viewed as a rogue problem-making country from the U.K. perspective these days, see e.g.

      • Dilaton says:

        Britain should send a SG1 commando to rescue Prof. Frampton from the Argentine injustice system!

        They have not right to steal a valuale member from the international physics community and should put more effort into putting their cartel problems etc under controll instead !

      • Dilaton says:


        …indeed, international organisations like the UNO, NATO, or whoever should put a trading embargo on Argentina and other countries with similar injustice systems and if this does not help, exploit some “stronger” means. That would teach them and put an example on THEM!!!

        Keeping poor, probably overly naive (in certain respects) tourists and travelors from other countries imprisoned instead of making any slight effort to find and punish the real culprits! Oh but I forgot, in such countries the governement is often involved in these cartel and drug business too … So an invasion is probably indeed the only way to install some justice and prevent the lives of I dont know how many innocent people from being destroyed …


  9. WhoKnows says:

    They should not have blocked him. Infact, if someone put cocaine into his bags, that someone should be interested in recovering it later…probably someone was following him or waiting for him in the destination country. Intern. police should have been followed him too, in order to try to catch the real criminals. That would be a nice spy story xD

  10. nameless says:

    “The authorities in these countries expect people to take responsibility for the contents of the luggage they carry.”
    What countries? Do you imply that this is not the case in the US?

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