Drug imports, exports halted

Eight men have been arrested and 2.2 pounds of cocaine have been confiscated through the efforts of Customs officers in the past three months.

In each instance officers spotted something out of the ordinary among passengers returning to the Cayman Islands.

They include:

• The seizure of 2,000 pounds of ganja.

• Confiscation of a firearm, which resulted in the arrest of a male juvenile.

• Cruise ship passengers charged with possession of cocaine and ganja.

• Confiscation of a large amount of ganja in a container.

Customs officers on 9 June observed a Honduran national employed on Grand Cayman behaving suspiciously on his arrival at Owen Roberts International Airport. When the K-9 unit was called in, the dog alerted its handler, the man was searched and cocaine was discovered.

He was charged with importation and possession of cocaine with intent to supply.

This led to further investigations and with assistance from the Police Drugs Task Force, a Caymanian man was detained for involvement in the importation of cocaine.

‘The cocaine is in powder form and the unofficial weight is half a kilo,’ Assistant Collector and Head of Customs Narcotic Enforcement Team/Intelligence Unit, Trevor Williams said. Investigations are ongoing.

Days later, a young Caymanian man returning from Honduras was arrested at the Grand Cayman airport after he too was observed behaving in a suspicious manner. A search yielded approximately half a kilo of cocaine in powder form, found on his person. He also was charged with importation and possession of cocaine with intent to supply. The investigation is ongoing, according to Mr Williams.

In the incident involving the firearm, on 15 June, a male juvenile was apprehended for importation of a pellet gun at ORIA upon his arrival from Miami. ‘The pellet gun is a restricted item that requires a permit to import,’ explained Mr. Williams. An X-ray search of the juvenile’s baggage led to the discovery of the firearm. He was interviewed in his mother’s presence and subsequently taken to Summary Court where he was fined $400 and the gun forfeited.

Another incident involved cruise ship passengers. Three men, all US nationals, were arrested at the cruise ship terminal on 30 June after they were seen acting suspiciously when they arrived to re-board their ship.

One was subsequently released without charge, while the other two were charged with possession of cocaine and ganja after being searched and found with a small amount of the drugs.

They appeared in court on 1 July, resulting in a fine of $400 for Ronald Emanuel, 30, for possession of cocaine, and Matthew Marmaros, 21), was fined $350 for possession of ganja. In both instances, the drugs were deemed for personal use. All three men have since left the Islands.

On 3 July, a search of an ’empty’ US-bound container resulted in the discovery of a large quantity of ganja. Customs officers searched the 40-foot container and discovered a false compartment at the back, which contained the contraband.

‘The concealment was discovered during random inspection by Customs, of outbound containers,’ Mr. Williams explained. Investigations continue.

And officers’ diligence has already led to the arrest of two more men at ORIA earlier this month.

Two Caymanians were arrested 8 August and charged with importation and possession of cocaine with intent to supply. Suspicions were aroused and a search of the two returning passengers revealed cocaine in powder form on each man. The drugs weighed some 4.2 ounces. Investigations are ongoing.

Mr. Williams said, ‘I am delighted that the admirable efforts of our officers have taken a substantial quantity of illegal drugs and a firearm off our streets. The arrests clearly demonstrate our zero tolerance to illegal substances and firearms. We take these cases very seriously and will continue to pursue them vigorously.’