Colombians, Venezuelan charged over Pomeroon drug bust

-three Guyanese also remanded

Charges were yesterday brought against four Colombians, three Guyanese and a Venezuelan, following an 11-kilogrammes cocaine bust at Pomeroon, Essequibo River on January 2nd.

Of the eight persons arraigned in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, one was charged with trafficking a narcotic, while the seven others, including a woman, were charged with aiding the trafficking of a narcotic.

Guyanese national Gavin Adams, 48, a carpenter and farmer of Grant Woodland, Pomeroon pleaded not guilty to the charge which stated that between September 1st 2017 and Tuesday, January 2nd  2018 he trafficked in 11.410 kilograms of cocaine.

The seven others who pleaded not guilty to the aiding charge are Yeison Sanchez, 27, a driver; Jesus Amaya, 52, a farmer; Reginaldo Jaramillo, 45, a driver; Wilinton Reyes, 26, a farmer, all of Colombia and Guyanese nationals Ian Matthias, 38, a labourer and Troy Piper, a boat captain, both of Moruca, Region One and Venezuelan Angelica Malave, 33, of Paradise High, Caracas, Venezuela.

The charge alleged that the men aided Adams to traffic the 11.410 kilogrammes of cocaine during September 2017 and January 2nd 2018. Meanwhile, Malave was charged separately with aiding both Adams and Sanchez with the trafficking.

After the charge was read to Adams, his attorney Mark Conway made an application for bail.  Conway told the court that at the time of the raid at Grant Woodland, Pomeroon, nine other persons were at the house. He argued that the narcotic was not found on his client and he did not have any knowledge of it.

However, in a counter-argument, Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) prosecutor Konyo Sandiford told the court a different story. She said that it was Adams who took the officer in charge of the raid to the location of the cocaine. Sandiford said that they have recorded statements made and signed by Adams and would be using them during the trial.  She also said that he provided information to investigating ranks which led them to return to the area to conduct additional raids.

She objected to bail on the grounds that Adams is a flight risk. The objection to bail was upheld.

Attorney Jerome Khan, who represented the other two Guyanese: Matthias and Piper, argued in his bail application that special reasons for bail cannot be applied to the charge since it is aiding. He stated further that the delay in instituting a criminal charge shows uncertainty and creates doubts. By bringing the charge eight days after his clients were arrested it looked as if CANU was fishing to find somebody to pin the bust on, he added. Where the narcotic was found, no one was present. He told the court that this is the first time his clients were implicated in a criminal matter and they are not flight risks since they both have families and are Guyanese nationals.

Conway in his bail application for Malave, Sanchez and Jaramillo argued that there was multiple occupancy where the cocaine was found and it cannot be established if the narcotic was found on his clients. In Malave’s case, he contended that she was at a home in Republic Park when the raid was conducted during the first two days of the New Year. He said that the state does not have any evidence to link the woman to the bust.

However, CANU’s prosecutor told the court that due the discovery made during the raid on Barrow Street, Republic Park, Malave was charged with aiding.

Attorney at Law Adrian Thomas, also argued on the grounds of multiple occupancy for his clients Amaya and Reyes during a bail application. Thomas stressed that at the time of the raid his clients and others were celebrating the dawn of a new year. He told the court that if bail was granted his clients were prepared to comply with any conditions attached.

Responding to the bail applications made by the attorneys for the accused, Sandiford said that seven of the accused were charged with aiding to traffic a narcotic. She argued that all the accused are flight risks since the address provided is Grant Woodlands, Pomeroon. She added that the four Colombians are likely to face charges for overstaying in the country. During the course of the trial she noted that they would be working to disprove the multiple occupancy claim by the accused lawyers to show the link to the accused in the case.

Sandiford also told the court that the file on the matter is incomplete and requested 14 days to complete it.

Two other persons including a minor were also arrested and remain in custody, Sandiford told the court.

The bail objections were upheld and all eight of the accused were remanded until January 15 when they are scheduled to make their next court appearance. The matter has been transferred to the Charity Magistrate’s Court.

In addition, Malave was charged with overstaying in the country by 53 days. The woman pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $30,000. According to Conway, the woman had gained employment as a cook and forgot to seek an extension of her time in the country. The woman had entered through Lethem and was given up to a month to stay. However during a raid at Barrow Street, Republic Park she was arrested.

During the 1st- 4th of January the bust was made. Stabroek News was told that ten blocks of cocaine were found with an estimated street value of US$350,000.

Three speed boats and engines, a car, 11 mobile phones and a quantity of foreign and local currency were found in separate raids at a residence in Republic Park and a residence in the Pomeroon.

The National Anti-Narcotics Agency on Friday last issued a press release stating that the currencies amounted to US$87,134, Venezuelan Bolívars $1,081,605, Colombian pesos, $201,000, Brazilian Reals $7,362 and $82,820.

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