Ganja boatmen get three years

Three men found on a boat with over a ton of ganja were sentenced on 29 June to three years imprisonment.

Philmore Wayneworth Williams, Henry O’Brian Buchanan and Ucal Dennis Buchanan all pleaded guilty to importation and possession with intent to supply approximately 2,000 pounds of the illegal substance.

Magistrate Nova Hall took the pleas in the morning and adjourned sentencing until the afternoon because of other matters scheduled.

When the case resumed, Crown Counsel Gail Johnson was able to advise the court that the total weight of the ganja was in fact 2,754 pounds.

According to a summary of facts she presented, officers from the Police drugs task force and the Customs narcotics division were on duty around 1.20am on 18 May.

A suspicious vessel was sighted about 100 yards from shore in the vicinity of the Jackson Point terminal [off South Church Street]. Their observations led the officers to intercept the vessel and board it. The three defendants were on board, along with the ganja.

Ms Johnson handed up the men’s interviews, which contained admissions.

Defence Attorney Keith Collins spoke on the defendants, all of whom are Jamaican.

He explained that Philmore, 34, was a fisherman by trade, from St. Thomas. He was approached by a man who wanted to borrow his satellite phone and GPS. Philmore replied that he would not lend his equipment, but would be prepared to go out with it whenever they wanted to use it.

He was then told it was a drug trip and he agreed to come.

Mr. Collins said this defendant had 15 children, with two more on the way. He was having financial difficulties and was promised US$10,000 for the trip. He gave into the temptation.

The attorney then spoke for Henry and Ucal, who are brothers from Hanover.

Henry, 31, said he was approached by a man who needed someone to captain a boat to the Cayman Islands. Payment offered to do the job was US$20,000.

This defendant had also been experiencing financial difficulties, so he called his brother, Ucal, for company. Ucal, 34, agreed and was promised a portion of the money.

In passing sentence, the magistrate said she saw no need to make any distinction between Henry and Ucal, or any of the defendants.

The maximum penalty for importing ganja is seven years.

Ms Johnson applied for the vessel, Ali 235lb, to be forfeited and the magistrate agreed.

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