Frozen fish cocaine accused remanded

The woman accused of trying to smuggle nearly eight pounds of cocaine in frozen fish to New York was yesterday remanded to prison once more.

Joyce Ram de Cunha, 54, of 55 East 99 Street, Apt. 13A, New York, New York appeared before the Providence Magistrate’s Court, where there was no bail request due to the absence of her lawyer. She did, however, indicate that she had retained attorney Mark Waldron.

 Joyce Ram de Cunha
Joyce Ram de Cunha

During the proceedings, the woman also requested the liberation of her bank account in order to allow her son access to it. According to the accused trafficker, her local bank had refused to release funds unless a court order was instituted. However, her request was delayed by Magistrate Leron Daly until her lawyer was present to make the request.

Ram de Cunha’s next hearing was fixed for June 30.

Before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, the woman was charged last Thursday with possessing 3.498 kilogrammes of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking on May 28 at the Cheddi Jagan Inter-national Airport (CJIA). She had pleaded not guilty to the charge and had been remanded.

According to Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) Prosecutor Oswald Massiah, the woman had been on Caribbean Airlines flight BW524 when she was invited for questioning and a subsequent search of her luggage.

Her luggage was pried open in her presence and revealed a smaller suitcase surrounded by five fish wrapped in plastic and newspaper. Upon closer inspection of the fish, it was discovered that they were all stitched with black polythene thread. Looking through the stitches, the officer noticed a shiny material which was soon identified as foil.

The foil was pierced and a white, powdery substance emerged from within.

The smaller suitcase was later opened and one similarly wrapped fish was also discovered within. In its belly, Massiah said, was a quantity of cocaine.

Massiah pointed out that no clothes had been in the woman’s suitcases.

When confronted, Ram De Cunha reportedly admitted that a man called “Fine Man” had given her the fish to take to another man in the US, Massiah said.

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