Two men – a Barbadian and a Guyanese – have admitted to being part of a plan to smuggle a large quantity of cannabis and cocaine into the island, by sea, almost six years ago.
David Ian Brathwaite of 3rd Avenue Parris Gap, Westbury Road, St Michael and Abdool Sameer Manan, of Georgetown, Guyana, pleaded guilty to six charges – possession, importation and trafficking 72.1 kilogrammes of cannabis and 50.4 kilogrammes of cocaine on June 29, 2017 – when the appeared in the No. 5 Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Following the pleas, State Counsel Tito Holder outlined the facts of the case before Madam Justice Pamela Beckles.
The prosecutor told the court that on the mentioned date, Coast Guard officials, acting on a tipoff, sailed to an area approximately three nautical miles off Oistins, Christ Church.
Around 8:30 p.m. that same day, after receiving further information, they ventured to an area 2.6 nautical miles off Maxwell, Christ Church.
When they arrived, the officers became suspicious when they observed a boat with no lights travelling in a southerly direction. The Coast Guard vessel turned on its strobe lights to get the other vessel to stop but it continued in the direction of the shoreline.
An officer shouted, “Barbados Coast Guard, stop the vessel!”
The boat then stopped.
The vessel was a pirogue with the name Solomon and registration number M470. Officers noticed two men and a number of bulky bags on board and one of the men identified himself as Brathwaite when they were asked their names. They were then escorted to the Coast Guard base.
Seven packages were taken off the vessel – four with vegetable matter and three with a white powdered substance – later confirmed to be cannabis and cocaine, respectively.
Inside the four cannabis bags were a total of 69 taped packages, and the three bags with cocaine had 44 small taped packages.
Brathwaite was interviewed and when told of his rights to an attorney-at-law, he said: “I am fully capable of defending myself, officer.”
He told police that he and the other man found on the boat had made an arrangement to use the vessel to go “fishing together”. He left the fishing complex in Bridgetown and picked up the other man at another location around 1 a.m.
Asked how the drugs got on the boat, Brathwaite said: “We went down southwest within a couple of miles and wait till daybreak. When turning coming back, the [another person] was on the phone talking to someone. I don’t know who he was talking to but when he done the call, we went to some coordinates . . . I see packages floating on the water tie off with rope. The other person cut the rope and we pull the packages on the boat.”
Brathwaite told police he was being paid for bringing the substances into the country.
“Before we left Barbados, the [other person] told me he will sort me out after we find the stuff. So, yeah, I was being paid. I wasn’t doing this for free,” he said.
Manan, meanwhile, was arrested in the departure area at the Grantley Adams International Airport on the night of June 30, 2017.
“I am not responsible for those drugs . . . . This . . . bigger than me,” he told police, claiming that the drugs belonged to a businessman who was already back in Guyana.
“I was just to make sure that the boatman collect the drugs from the GPS coordinates that [the man] provided and get the drugs to land safe . . . . When I couldn’t connect to the captain, I know something was wrong and I informed [the man]. He then tell me leave Barbados on the next available flight.”
The facts were accepted by the convicts’ attorney, Andrew Pilgrim KC and pre-sentencing reports and reports on the time the two had spent on remand at Dodds were ordered.
Brathwaite has 17 prior convictions, including one for importing cannabis and two for possession of cannabis.
The case continues on May 31.