Two Nisa Bula cocaine smugglers face higher punishment on appeal

POSTED: 03/4/11 8:46 PM

St. Maarten – The solicitor general demanded in the Common court of justice a 10-year prison sentence against Gerald Collet and 8 years against Joel Mark for their role in a cocaine transport in 2008 with the Nisa Bula. The appeal court had to redo the trial because the Supreme Court voided an earlier sentence whereby both men received 5.5 year prison terms.

The solicitor general said that the prosecutor’s office had appealed the verdict because it thought the sentence too low. The supreme court voided the sentence however in October, because the text of the verdict did not mention the evidence against the two suspects.

Defense attorney Mr. S.R. Bommel contested the evidence that established the Nisa Bula had transported cocaine and asked the court to acquit her clients.

The Nisa Bula had 483 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of $19.3 million on board when it moored in Great Bay on June 6, 2008. Gerard Collet was on board as the controller for the shipment’s owners; Mark was hired for his sailing experience.

The shipment was on its way to Portugal. Its street value in Europe would have been $19.3 million. The owners of the drugs had promised captain Spees $200,000 for his services. In turn, the captain promised his crew members $50,000 each.

The Nisa Bula sailed on May 21, 2008 from Trinidad on a northern course. Five days later it met with a speedboat on the high seas near the coast of British Guyana, where it took 21 sports bags containing 23 kilos of cocaine each on board. Maps found on the boat and map coordinates suggest that the Nisa Bula intended to sail further north towards Portugal’s south coast.

But on May 29 the vessel encountered technical problems when the engine’s gearbox gave up. Captain Spees changed course and headed for S. Maarten where he expected to find spare parts to repair the gearbox. On June 2 the Nisa Bula anchored in Great Bay. When the Coast Guard boarded the boat for an inspection, officers discovered a secret hiding place where the cocaine was stashed away.

Spees has in the meantime been transferred to the Netherlands where he spends his sentence in a half-open detention facility that allows him to go home for the weekend. Mark and Collet have been left to their own devices by their captain, without money, and without a possibility to see their families.

Both defendants stood to earn $50,000 if the transport had made it to its final destination in Portugal.


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