Four remanded, importing ganja charged

Two Caymanians and two Jamaicans were remanded in custody after appearing in Summary Court on Friday charged with importing 385 pounds of ganja.

The accused are: Shane William Junior McLean, 19, of George Town; Arick Ren Williams, 19, of West Bay; Cornel Alfonso Powell, 50, of White House District, Westmoreland, Jamaica; and Ian Linwall Johnson, 56, Belmont District, Westmoreland.

The four are also charged with possession and possession with intent to supply the ganja. They are accused of bringing it into Cayman waters on Saturday, 3 January.

A press release from police about the incident said the men were arrested following an operation off the coast of Grand Cayman involving ‘officers of the Drugs Task Force, Marine Unit, Uniform Support Group as well as Air Support through the use of the helicopter.’

In court, Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees said all four men were aboard the vessel AVA when one of the officers saw several containers aboard the vessel, including buckets and bags. From the strong scent, the officer suspected ganja and the boat was stopped.

In all, 21 containers including suitcases were found on the 30-foot vessel. Ms Lees indicated the vegetable matter was still being processed but said its weight was approximately 385 pounds.

She said the four men admitted leaving Jamaica early in the morning of 3 January. Johnson told officers he was to be paid $100,000 for the trip [currency not specified]. McLean said 10 pounds was his that he had bought for US$1,000.

Williams, she reported, told officers he was on a mission to bring drugs back for a man whose first name and nickname he gave to police. Powell said he only noticed the ganja when he was already on the boat; he was out on a job and didn’t know what was on the boat because it was dark.

Ms Lees objected to bail because of the strength of the evidence, likely sentence and risk of flight.

Defence Attorney Lloyd Samson urged Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale to grant bail for McLean on the basis of his previous good character, youth and the length of time it might take to resolve this matter.

He pointed out that issues could well arise when he received papers from the Crown. For example, the interviews might be challenged. Meanwhile, the court could impose conditions of bail to allay any fear of McLean being a flight risk.

He noted McLean had used his passport to go to Jamaica, but had not used it coming back.

The magistrate said he had demonstrated his ability to come to Cayman illegally and might leave illegally. Surrender of his passport would not satisfy her that McLean would come to court if granted bail. She told him he had the right to appeal to a higher court.

Williams was not represented and no family member was in court for him. The magistrate said she would see about legal aid for him on some limited basis because of his youth.

She told Johnson and Powell they were foreigners illegally landed and with no right of residence, so there could be no bail.

On behalf of Johnson, Attorney John Furniss asked the magistrate for special exercise of her discretion in granting legal aid. The magistrate said she would not and told him to take the application through normal channels.

The matter was set for mention again on Tuesday, 20 January.

The police press release of Monday, 5 January, referred to a fifth man, age 24, arrested on land on suspicion of conspiracy to import ganja. However, no mention of a fifth person was made in court.