Money laundering punished with 36 months imprisonmentPOSTED: 04/25/13 11:52 AM
St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced Fernando Jose Medina Martinez yesterday to 36 months imprisonment for money laundering and firearm possession. Of the sentence 12 months are suspended. The court imposed 3 years of probation.
Medina Martine was arrested last year on August 2 after a tip from the American Drug Enforcement Administration DEA. In houses the defendant rented in Cupecoy and in Cole bay investigators found all in all $690,000, a hunting rifle, a Ruger pistol and live ammunition. Medina Martinez has not been able to give a plausible explanation for the money.
The court rejected attorney Eppie Sulvaran’s request to declare the prosecution inadmissible based on perceived irregularities during interrogations and with the search of a house on Amber Road in Cole Bay. The court ruled that the house search was done according to the rules and also rejected the defense’s request to exclude evidence found during this search.
The court considered proven that Medina Martinez had $690,000 in cash at his disposal while he knew that the money stemmed from criminal activities.
The information from the DEA and from the Criminal Intelligence Division of the local police force pointed to “a money stash house in the apartment of a fat Venezuelan called Fernando.”
During house searches at the apartment on Rhine Road and Amber Road investigators found money hidden in multiple places – from trouser pockets and bedroom cupboards to backpacks and a washing machine.
Medina Martinez rented the two houses under different names. The court considers the presence of a large amount of cash – most of it in small denominations, a characteristic of international crime. ”These risks are often covered with firearms. In both houses a weapon was found with DNA that match the defendant’s profile. The defendant told the police contrary to the truth that he had never handled a weapon,” the court ruling states.
Medina Martinez also rented cars under different names. Two of the names he used for renting cards and apartments stand out: Rubi Dalita Reyes and Luis Pacheco Heredia. Both names surfaced in 2007 in Curacao in the so-called Sneeuw-investigation into drug dealing.