Mega drug smugglers receive mild sentence

POSTED: 03/7/14 12:24 AM

St. Maarten– John Henry Medina received a 6-year prison sentence in the Court in First Instance yesterday for his involvement in a humongous cocaine transport. The prosecution demanded 15 years against the 34-year-old defendant at the trial on February 12. Given the huge difference between the sentence and the demand, it is expected that the prosecution will appeal the verdict. Two co-defendants received sentences of 8 years, but Marco David Santana Guerero (35) and Carlos Miquel Olivier Cruz (30) were not in court. They escaped from their cell at the police station on June 23 of last year and they have disappeared without a trace.

The three men were caught on March 3 of last year on a speedboat traveling from Venezuela in  the direction of the Dominican Republic. On board of their Eduardono go-fast Coast Guard officers found 51 bales containing 1,453 kilos of cocaine. Prosecutor Tineke Kamps estimated the value of the transport at the trial to be around $1.2 billion. The three men each received $10,000 for their services.

Santana Guerero told investigators that the three men had sailed to Venezuela from the south side of Santo Domingo towards the nearby island of Saona. From there it took 2.5 days to reach Venezuela, where the drugs were brought on board.

The court dismissed all defense arguments from Medina’s attorney Eldon Sulvaran. One of these arguments was that Medina had been interrogated in April 2013 by an officer of the American Drugs Enforcement Administration, but this fact was only presented to the court on February 12 at the trial.

In its ruling, the court qualified this as “an ambush technique, whereby the court is ambushed with a new fact that is of the utmost importance according to the defense.” The court failed to see what the defense wanted to achieve with this and noted that the attorney had for whatever reason decided not to ask for further investigation of this matter.

Medina was also for quite some time in extradition detention – reason for the defense to argue that it is not possible to subject someone to an extradition procedure and prosecute him at the same time. The court ruled however that this is very well possible.

“The prosecutor has promised at the trial that the defendant will not be extradited for the facts for which he is being prosecuted. The prosecutor cannot give that guarantee because the governor has his own competence in these matters.” However, the court understood that the prosecutor meant to say that prosecution and conviction in St. Maarten is a legal impediment to extradition to the United States.”

The court considered proven that Medina and his two absent companions transported the cocaine on March 3 of last year. They were sailing in a boat without a flag or nationality and they were on their way to the Dominican Republic.

The court ruled that Medina had made the conscious choice “to earn a lot of money in a short time with the transport of hard drugs.” The court diverged significantly from the demand by the prosecution because there are no indications that Medina has been involved in other transports in the past and because he was not the captain or the helmsman.

Olivier Cruz and Santana Guerero who functioned as captain and helmsman, also received a significantly lower sentence than the 15-year demand from the prosecution, but the court did not motivate why the men have to serve just 8 years.

Did you like this? Share it:
Mega drug smugglers receive mild sentence by

Comments are closed.