A multinational group of men, accused of importing over $102,500 worth of cocaine into Barbados as well as possessing a firearm and ammunition, has been remanded to prison.
Guyanese nationals Dexter Curtis Caesar and Leon Jermine Seales; Trinidadians Kern Joseph Leequay and Brandon Felix Richards; and Venezuelans Jimmy Gabriel Meza Hernandez and Jhoan Jesus Morillo Cortez appeared before Magistrate Manila Renee on charges of possession, supply, trafficking and importation of cocaine within Barbados’ territorial waters on March 20.
They are also charged with possession and importation of a firearm and four rounds of ammunition.
The accused men were represented by Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley in association with Dr Lenda Blackman, Simon Clarke, Seantelle Parris and Sade Harris.
Police prosecutor Station Sergeant Cameron Gibbons objected to bail on the drug charges. Officer Gibbons spoke of the seriousness of the offences and the fact that five of the accused had no immigration status. The immigration status of the sixth man, Caesar, is in the process of being verified after hearing claims that he is a Barbadian resident, though born in Guyana, the court was told. His address is also listed as Collins, St Peter. Caesar has no previous convictions.
Lashley told the court that Caesar has been living here since 1983 and attended primary school here. In addition, he said that his client had two children here and was well known to many on the island.
“With respect to the fact that the accused man is not known and given the fact that these are bailable offences, I believe that he is a good candidate for bail in the circumstances,” Lashley said in relation to bail on the drug charges. He said the only question for the court would be whether the Immigration Department could confirm that Caesar lives in Barbados. Lashley said he was aware of non-nationals who have received bail for matters involving drugs.
The court also heard from Lashley that the Trinidadians had Barbadian connections and as such there were people here would have been willing to sign bail for them. He eventually asked for bail in respect of all the accused men.
But Magistrate Renee was unmoved. “Bail denied,” she said. “I do not have jurisdiction to grant bail in respect of the firearm offences so you are not going anywhere,” she added, saying that if Lashley intended to apply to the High Court for bail he was entitled to do so in respect of the drug and firearm offences.
Lashley attempted to reiterate his argument that the magistrate had jurisdiction to consider bail on the drug charges but was again rebuffed.
Given that five were non-nationals and contrary to their lawyer’s arguments, it was highly unusual for bail to be granted in circumstances such as these, the magistrate said. She added that she could not recall such a case.
Magistrate Renee said: “The offences are very serious and if the accused persons are found guilty at the High Court, the usual sentence in such cases carry imprisonment. For those reasons, I have denied the application for bail. I don’t think I am disadvantaging the accused persons because the sentences associated with these kinds of matters, under the legislation, are very serious.”
But the QC persisted with his plea for bail. He mentioned a case where a non-national, on drug charges, was given a fine and also allowed to leave the island. The case, Lashley said, involved more drugs than in this case.
“And even in getting fines I am not seeking to say that the High Court is bound… but recently for firearm offences the court has been giving fines,” Lashley said.
Before adjourning the matter and remanding the accused, Magistrate Renee asked Lashley to bring the case to show that the non-national spent no time on remand.
The six are to return on April 27 before the No.2 District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court.