Opinion: Rip deal

POSTED: 07/5/13 11:56 AM

The November 10, 2012 murder of French Quarter resident Gaston Ambroise Gumbs turns out to be a drugs-related crime. The details that emerged during the trial of the two suspects in this case yesterday morning show that the local cocaine trade on the island is alive and kicking – and that it remains a volatile and high-risk business.

According to the version of events the public prosecutor’s office presented in court – one that found support from one of the attorneys – it all started when Stevenson P. somehow “lost” 2 kilos of cocaine that reportedly belonged to a man called Angelo Blijden from Curacao.

Blijden wanted his money, and Stevenson P. found himself in a bind until the later murder-victim Gaston Gumbs came along with a request for a mega-cocaine deal: he wanted 25 kilos of snow and when he approached Stevenson P. for it, the latter quickly realized that his prayers had been answered.

Mind you – the court still has to pronounce its verdict in this case so at the moment nothing is set in stone. It’s good to keep in mind that Stevenson P. and his co-defendant (the absent Sobiesky Parrondo who escaped from the police station on June 23 and has not been heard of since) are innocent until proven guilty. The police have released Parrondo’s full name and his picture after his escape.

Interestingly, one of the last people to see Gumbs alive while he was sitting on a wall near the Cigar lounge in Sucker Garden was former Economic Affairs Minister Franklin Meyers.  That’s a little detail for the history books.

Stevenson P. was grilled extensively about his whereabouts on the day the deal was supposed to go down. If the defendant is to be believed he spent his day hopping around from one place to the other, basically circling the island and meeting people whose names he could not or did not want to remember and having phone conversations with people without being able to tell the court what these phone calls were all about.

Stevenson P. used expressions like “to be honest,” “I don’t remember exactly” and “I know for sure” a lot, but in the end he made one firm statement: “I am not a drug dealer.”

The well-spoken defendant, who claims to make a living in advertising and promotion, had trouble answering straightforward questions – or maybe he did not feel like giving the answers.

What it comes down to, according to the prosecution, is that Gumbs was lured to the Dutch side where he got a firm beating from his adversaries before they put two bullets in his head.

That Gumbs was ill-treated before he was shot appears from a report by the pathologist, so there is no doubt that he took a beating. Two hours after he was murdered, Stevenson P. and Parrondo returned to the crime scene where P. set the body on fire.

Later that night he allegedly drove Gumbs’ car to Galis Bay on the French side where he doused it in gasoline and set it on fire.

Video footage from earlier in the evening at the DP gas station in French Quarter shows that Parrondo – who is a non-smoker – bought a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Parrondo had claimed to the police that he made the purchases at P.’s request; the latter is also a non-smoker.

The defense for Stevenson P. noted that the case for the prosecution hinges for the better part on statements made by one Maradona – a son of the murder victim. He knew that his father was meeting two people in Guana Bay and when his dad did not return from the appointment, he spontaneously went to Gumbs’ house and searched it. What did he find? A bag full of money. What happened to that bag? Apparently a couple of guys showed up at the house and the son gave it to them.

Gumbs wanted to buy 25 kilos of cocaine, according to court documents, and he was prepared to pay $8,500 a kilo for it, giving the proposed deal a value of $212,500.

When Gumbs showed up for his meeting with Parrondo and Stevenson P. near the Cigar Lounge in Sucker Garden (at the entrance to Guana Bay Road) it soon became apparent that he did not have the money with him. That must have set of the chain of events that eventually cost him his life.

This shows that the basic principles of the drugs trade still stand: high risk, high reward. But when things go wrong, there is a price few people are prepared to pay.

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