Prison employee caught smuggling drugs inside

POSTED: 08/30/13 12:24 PM

Threatened woman fired and sentenced to community service

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced a 51-year-old administrative employee of the Pointe Blanche prison yesterday to 3 months of imprisonment, with 2 months suspended, 2 years of probation and 80 hours of community service for an attempt to smuggle 171 grams of marijuana into the prison.

The woman told the court she had done this because she “owed somebody a favor” and later said that she had been threatened. Pressed for more specific information the defendant declined to say more. Given these circumstances, this newspaper protects the defendant’s identity.

The smuggle-attempt occurred on March 26. “I sat in my car for ten or fifteen minutes before I decided to enter the building,” the woman told the court. “Now I have lost my job, I have lost the respect of the government. I am really sorry I did this. At least my family has forgiven me.”

The defendant had taped the package with soft drugs to her back, but it was discovered when colleagues scanned her.

“Why did you do it?” Judge Koos van de Ven wanted to know, but the defendant’s answers remained vague. “I tried to do someone a favor,” she said. And: “I don’t know who I did it for.”

One evening the woman had been sitting in a bar when someone sent her a text message with the request to get some weed into the prison. While the defendant claimed not to know the sender, .this seems unlikely, because after much probing by the judge she finally said that she had been threatened. “I cannot say who threatened me,” she told the court, acknowledging that she knew the person.

Prosecutor Dounia Benammar took notice of the circumstances the defendant described. “But you worked in an environment where a high level of integrity is expected. When the new prison director took office he gave the staff a lecture and warned them to stop with criminal activities. We cannot have that our personnel do these kinds of things. That the defendant has been, or will be, fired is justified.
The defendant spent 1 month behind bars after she was caught. The prosecutor demanded a 3-month prison sentence, with 2 months suspended, 2 years of probation and 80 hours of community service.

Attorney Shaira Bommel pointed out that St. Maarten is a small community and that her client had been pressured into smuggling the drugs into the prison. “Her health has deteriorated during her detention and the community service will be difficult for her. My client needs an operation and after that she intends to leave the island.”

Judge Van de Ven noted that the defendant had attempted to smuggle a considerable amount of drugs into Pointe Blanche. “The new director clearly announced a zero tolerance policy. It is good to know that this policy is being executed, but you broke those rules.”

The judge said that he could not take into account the reasons that had brought the defendant to do what she did. “I have given you the opportunity to provide an explanation. It is your choice not to clarify this.”


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