Keon Brewster, who was accused of trying to smuggle cocaine concealed in rum out of the country, was yesterday sentenced to four years in jail and fined over $15 million after he changed his plea to guilty.
Brewster, 21, of Sophia, had been charged earlier this month along with two employees of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), with possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking. It was alleged that Brewster, Loric Williams, 24, of 51, Prospect, East Bank Demerara and Chris Douglas, of Timehri had 6.034 kilogrammes of cocaine on May 29 at the CJIA.
The trio appeared before Magistrate Ann McLennan yesterday for a scheduled report date but Brewster was subsequently taken back before the court after he indicated he wanted to change his plea to guilty.
The prosecutor’s facts stated that on May 29, Brewster, a Guyanese-born US resident, was an outgoing passenger at the airport on Dynamic Airlines flight destined for the JFK Airport in New York. However, as he approached the departure gate, ranks of the police narcotics branch conducted a routine search on his carry-on bag and found three bottles of El Dorado-brand rum. The contents of the bottles, which appeared unusually thick, aroused their suspicions and a test of the substance later confirmed the presence of cocaine.
Brewster admitted knowledge of the cocaine and pointed out Williams and Douglas, who were both employed as air conditioning technicians at the airport, as the persons who gave him the rum to transport, the prosecutor noted.
Further, the facts stated that all three men admitted knowledge of the cocaine and told lawmen that they were all paid various sums to do their part in transporting the bottles of rum. The prosecutor noted also that CCTV footage at the airport revealed the three men communicating in the washroom area of the airport.
The unrepresented Brewster smiled from the dock as prosecutor Bharat Mangru related the facts to the court.
For his part, Brewster stated that he was in the washroom area of the CJIA and saw four bottles of rum. “I pick up three and leave one, because it was rum after all and I thought someone leave it there for me,” Brewster said. He continued, “I pack one in my haversack and the other two in my hand luggage and when I reach the checkpoint an officer told me I am looking suspicious and I must be searched. I told him where I got the rum from because he ask and I said the washroom. I also told him I saw two males in the washroom that I never saw before giving me eye contact and that was Williams and Douglas. But when I go back to show the officer them, they were already gone. But a view of the camera in the airport show these same two guys that get charge with me I don’t know if them put it there.”
Brewster also begged the court for lenience.
Magistrate McLennan subsequently sentenced Brewster to four years in jail and also imposed a fine of $15,020,800, which is equal to three times the street value of the drugs.
Meanwhile, Douglas and Williams will make their next court appearance on July 7.