A businessman, who thought cocaine given to him to take to New York was baked into his suitcase, received a three-year jail sentence after he admitted to trafficking in the illegal drug when the matter was heard at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Andrew Michael Park, 41, of 1082 B 12 Pattensen, Turkeyen, pleaded guilty when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, who also fined him $30,000.
The charge against Park is that on June 13 at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, he had in his possession 3.124 kilogrammes of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) prosecutor Oswald Massiah, who related the facts to the court, said that on Thursday, Park was an outgoing passenger on Caribbean Airlines flight BW 524, destined for New York. Massiah said Park checked in at 3:15 am with a black suitcase and walked to the departure lounge. At 4:30am, acting on information received, a CANU officer contacted Park, identified himself and proceeded to question him.
Massiah said that Park was asked to identify his suitcase, which was later searched and the illegal substance suspected to be cocaine was found concealed inside. Park was informed of the offence being committed and after being cautioned, said that the illegal substance was given to him in the suitcase to take to the USA. The officer said Park confessed that on arrival someone would receive the cocaine and he would be given US$5000 for transporting the drug. Park was subsequently taken into custody and charged.
When asked if he had anything to say, Park who was not represented by counsel, admitted to having knowledge of the substance. “This was not meant to happen…with the false allegation I received pertaining to the substance in the suitcase. I did not know it was at the back there [at the bottom of the suitcase]. Odel, the guy who gave me, told me it was built in the walling, in the material itself. They said they baked it in. When I cooperated with the CANU, they told me it was at the bottom, in the powder form,” he told the court.
Park pleaded with the court for leniency, saying he has six children to support and that he is a businessman with two loans to pay off. “I humbly apologise to my brotherhood and sisterhood and everyone I hurt,” he said. “I cooperated with CANU and I compliment them on the good work they have done.”
In noting the circumstances, the magistrate said that at his age, the defendant should know the consequences of his actions. She also pointed to the seriousness and prevalence of the offence and the quantity of the substance.
Meanwhile, regarding the mitigating circumstances, the magistrate noted that the defendant pleaded guilty at the first opportunity thus saving the court’s time and Park is also the father of six children with loans to pay off. In addition, she said, he has no prior convictions or pending matters before the court.
She then sentenced Park to three years imprisonment along with a fine of $30,000. Massiah told the court that owing to information received on Park’s arrest, CANU will be continuing investigations.