The American DEA is among us (on St. Maarten)

POSTED: 03/21/14 7:52 PM

What exactly is the American Drug Enforcement administration doing in St. Maarten? That question seems legitimate after the organization’s name surfaced for the second time in a month in a court case in Philipsburg, this time complete with the name of an American agent: J. Gregory Garza. He is the DEA Country Attaché in Curacao.

On February 12, John Henry Medina stood trial for his role in a mega cocaine transport. His attorney Eldon Sulvaran claimed that his client had been interrogated in St. Maarten by agents of the DEA. Yesterday, the court ruling in the money laundering case of Jose Leonel Gomez and his wife Ketin revealed that the tip that led to a house search at an apartment on Airport Road on August 1 of last year came from DEA-agent Gregory Garza.

Questioning a suspect in a humongous cocaine transport is one thing, but tipping local police about the presence of large amounts of money and firearms at an address on Airport Road is quite something else.

One may well wonder why this information had to come from someone like Garza. How did he come by his information? Is the DEA actively investigation in St. Maarten? It this not something we ought to know about? Is there at least a legal basis for DEA-activities on the territory of the autonomous country St. Maarten?

From the side of the police or the Justice Ministry no information has been provided on this issue so far. That is odd: we figure that the population has at least the right to know who is among them. Are agents like Garza armed? Are they entitled to use their weapons in a foreign country?

The case at the Airport Road does not smell good at all. Yes, Garza was right with his information that the defendant had a large amount of cash at home. How Garza came by this information remains a mystery, but one thing is certain: the day he gave his tip to the police, law enforcement immediately jumped into action. The court has now ruled that there is no proof the money stems from criminal activities. This does not mean necessarily that Garza was wrong – it only means that there is no proof. Good thing that the officers found weapons as well, so the court had at least something to convict the defendant.

 

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