Prosecution demands 6 years against organizer cocaine transport to St. CroixPOSTED: 10/28/11 11:17 AM
St. Maarten – The public prosecutor demanded a 6-year prison sentence against 54-year-old St. Maartener Roberto Bernard F. as the supplier of 10.3 kilos of cocaine and the organizer of a transport of these drugs to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Pedro G., a 37-year-old farmer from St. Croix the prosecution considers as the buyer, is facing 5 years and Victor G. a professional dragbike racer from Puerto Rico who was supposed to captain the transport, is looking at a possible 3-year prison sentence. Judge Mr. M. Keppels will pronounce her verdict on November 9.
Roberto F. denied his involvement in the cocaine transport that was intercepted on June 25. “I have nothing to do with this,” he said. Pedro G. admitted that he had picked up the drugs at a brothel with the intention to deliver it somewhere in Maho, and Victor G. denied he knew anything about the drugs.
The three defendants were arrested on June 25. Pedro G. and Victor G. (not related) were driving a car that carried 10.3 kilos of cocaine in a bag in the trunk.
Dragbike-racer G. said he thought they were going to go fishing and that he was unaware there were drugs in the bag that he himself had put in the car at the request of Pedro G.
The investigation in to the drugs transport started after the prosecutor’s office received information from the American Drug Enforcement Administration DEA that Roberto F. was planning to pick up $1.7 million in St. Croix, the proceeds of an earlier 50 kilos cocaine transport to the United States.
Investigators tapped F.’s phone and soon found the link with the other suspects. The investigation lasted less than a week, and investigators decided to act when a boat prepared by co-defendant Andre D. was about to leave, carrying cocaine to St. Croix. The boat belonged to the wife of Eric Lake; the latter also was a suspect in the case, but shortly before he was about to be arrested he was liquidated in a shooting at the A.T. Illidge Road on August 17, that also claimed the life of Kevin Gumbs.
After the three defendants were arrested a search at houses belonging to defendant Roberto F. netted investigators a .22 caliber single shot rifle, life ammunition and $15,000 in cash.
Prosecutor mr. B. den Hartigh said that Pedro G. confessed that he knew he was going to transport drugs. “He told police that he was acting alone, but that is not credible. He was the buyer and Roberto F. was the seller.”
The prosecutor said that Roberto F. was the supplier of the drugs and that he had also set up the transport. Pedro G. had a coordinating role, while the prosecution considered Victor G.’s role as a minor one.
Attorney mr. S.R. Bommel contested that her client Pedro G. had been the buyer of the drugs. “He did not have a leading or an organizing role,” she said. The attorney also contested a statement by co-defendant Andre D. that he had been threatened. “There are no documents in the file that show he was threatened. That statement is a lie.”
mr. Bommel said that the summaries of the phone taps were misleading because they did not correspond with the real content of the tapped phone conversations. She pointed out that there is no proof that Roberto F. delivered the drugs to her client.
mr. Bommel said that the demand of 3 years against her other client, Victor G. was a disgrace, because he is hardly mentioned in the investigation. “”Three years because he probably would act as the captain of the boat, that is too much,” she said, and asked the court to acquit the dragbike racer.
mr. C.H.J. Merx presented an extensive technical defense for his client Roberto F. According to mr. Merx, investigators had practiced structural observation, a method that has no legal basis (yet) in St. Maarten. He also contested the lawfulness of the searches at his client’s properties, and the legality of the phone taps.
The attorney said that these violations add up to irreparable procedural mistakes; he asked the court to declare the prosecution inadmissible.
mr. Merx also contested that there had been close and conscious cooperation between his client and the other defendants. If the court rejects the request to declare the prosecution inadmissible, Merx asked the court to acquit his client, and he asked to end his detention. He also requested that the money that was confiscated, be given back. “There is no proof that the money stems from criminal activities,” he said.