No Limit Soldiers rapper Nuto looks at eight years in prison

POSTED: 04/25/14 8:32 AM

Gang on trial for drugs and weapons possession and money laundering

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance spent the whole day yesterday on the trial of four suspects in a cocaine, firearms and money laundering case – and it is not over yet. The attorney for three of the defendants had to postpone her plea until June 25, because the court did not want to continue after five o’clock. Faced with the challenge to find a new date – and not finding one – prosecutor Gonda van der Wulp lashed out at Judge Koos van de Ven and asked him to excuse himself from the case.

“I heard you say twice that if I do not find a new date you would suspend the detention of these three defendants,” she said. “That smells like prejudice.”

The judge countered that he had only said that he would consider suspending the detention, but that he would leave the judgment on his prejudice to a so-called wrakingskamer – a court that will rule independently on the prosecution’s request to excuse him from the case.

After the prosecution announced that it had been unable to find a new date, Judge Van de Ven announced a new date himself: June 25, at 2 p.m. When the attorney for three of the four defendants, Paula Jansen, asked the court whether she could still submit a request to suspend her clients’ detention, the judge denied her that opportunity.

The case at hand revolves around rapper Urvin Laurence W., aka Nuto who has been named in the media in Curacao as an important member of the No Limit Soldiers gang that was involved in the assassination of Pueblo Soberano leader Helmin Wiels.

In December, prosecutor Gert Rips said during a court hearing about the Wiels assassination that it was not possible to transfer one of the suspects – D’Angelo Damascus – to the prison in St. Maarten. That is because Damascus made incriminating statements against Elvis Kuwas – who has now confessed to the Wiels assassination – and because Nuto W. is in prison in St. Maarten. Rip said that Damascus would run the risk to get killed in prison.

The 33-year-old rapper was calm and polite during the court session, but at the end of the day, the prosecution demanded 8 years of imprisonment against him. The court will pronounce its sentence in this case on Friday May 9.

The three other defendants, Tenloy Dean S. (33), Rechard Mitchell R. (27), and Gregory Antonio L. (23) will have to wait for the continuation of their trial on June 25, though the prosecution has already announced its demands: 3 years against S., 4 years against R. and 5 years against L. A fifth defendant, identified in court only as D. will stand trial on June 25.

The charges against the four men vary from cocaine possession (between 1,130 and 3,844 grams), firearm possession, money laundering and membership of a criminal organization.

The suspects ran out of luck on September 17 of last year when they were sitting in parked cars in the Keys in Sucker Garden. A passing police patrol, driving with open windows, noticed a strong marijuana smell and decided to check out the situation.

They found altogether 3,844 grams of cocaine, $25,300 in cash, a small amount of marijuana, and two firearms. Nuto W.’s smart phone contained pictures of a semi-automatic firearm, two pistols and several cartridge holders and a message saying that he had “just bought this set.”

Nuto W. denied all charges, except admitting that there was “a small amount of marijuana” in his car. Rechard R. admitted to firearm and ammunition possession and having the $25,300 in cash, but he denied charges for cocaine possession and membership of a criminal organization. Tenloy S. admitted in court to gun, cocaine and marijuana possession, while young Gregory L. denied all accusations.

Attorney Paula Jansen had called Gregory L.’s mother as a witness, but the talkative woman proved to be no help. Her statements were vague, and she continuously evaded answering specific questions from the court. “She talks a lot and she gets confused,” L. later told the court. There was however one statement that actually hurt the defense; the mother claimed that she had given her son a large amount of money – around $17,500 – for his birthday and that the cash denominations had been mostly 100 and 50-dollar bills. However, from the dossier it appeared that L.’s sister had counted the money and that they had been mostly 20-dollar bills. L. used the money to buy a car.

Investigators also found that L., who has no job, was spending large amounts of money. His mother claimed in court that she had been saving money for the kid since he was born and that she gave him money when he needed it.

When the police patrol searched the defendants’ cars on September 17, they found $25,300 in the vehicle of Rechard R. plus a package containing 1,130 grams of cocaine. In Nuto W.’s car they found 2,714 grams of the white lady. R. had no good explanation for the large amount of cash. “It is up to the suspect to provide a concrete, verifiable and not beforehand highly unlikely explanation for the legal origins of that money,” prosecutor Van der Wulp told the court.

The investigation showed that there has been a joint effort by the defendants D., W. and L. to transport probably 150 kilos of drugs from Dominica to St. Maarten. The defendants D. and W. talked on July 1 of last year about the purchase of “150 food” (by the prosecution perceived as drugs) for 55,000. The prosecutor’s demand does not specify whether this is a dollar- or a guilder-amount, but since dollars are the most used currency in drug deals it is likely that the amount is in American dollars.

Both D. and Rechard R. worked last year as airplane cleaners at the airport.

The core of the criminal organization consisted of Nuto W., D., L. and R., the prosecution concluded yesterday. “Other persons were also involved, like the grandmother and the brother of D.” Another accomplice is according to the prosecution a man named Bernard Angelo C. in Dominica.

The prosecution considers Nuto W. the leader of the gang, with D. as “some sort if interim-chef.” Nuto W. called Gregory L. “soldier” – and indication of his lower position in the organization.

Nuto W. has a rap sheet that becomes a rapper. In 2004 he was sentenced in the Netherlands to 18 months for street robbery, ill-treatment and theft. In 2008 he was acquitted in Curacao of threatening someone with violence, and in St. Maarten of firearm possession. In 2007 the court in Curacao sentenced him to 3 years for complicity to theft and firearm possession, and in 2011 the court in St. Maarten sentenced him to 8 months for firearm possession. The other three defendants do not have a criminal record.

Prosecutor Van der Wulp noted that it seems that defendant Rechard R. “for whatever reason has not been free to make a statement. It is remarkable that R. and fellow-suspect D. have the same attorney,” she said.

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