Drug dealer loses $10,000

Court confiscates currency as proceeds of criminal conduct

Convicted drug dealer Camilo Naranjo returned to Grand Court on Tuesday when he heard Justice Charles Quin order the confiscation of over $10,000 Naranjo had in his possession at the time of his arrest. 

Naranjo was sentenced in March to eight years imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. He admitted conspiring with Osman Bonilla to supply cocaine to two men who turned out to be undercover officers: the agreement was to supply three kilos for $54,000. On the day the officers handed him the money, he counted it, made a series of phone calls and was then arrested. 

At the sentencing hearing, defence attorney Clyde Allen submitted that Naranjo was a low-level trader who was told that the would-be buyers were police officers; when he found out how much money was on offer, he intended to steal it and never deliver any drug (Caymanian Compass, 25 March). 

Justice Quin did not accept that explanation, since there was evidence that Naranjo had demonstrated to the undercover officers knowledge of different ways to conceal drugs for trafficking. 

Naranjo was arrested on 24 November, 2010. During a search of his home premises, officers found a scale with traces of cocaine. They also recovered CI$4,200.77; US$784; British pounds 3,970; and 60 euros. Naranjo had on his person US$752.  

The total of the four currencies equalled CI$10,626.13. 

Senior Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees applied for a confiscation order under The Proceeds of Crime Law. Given the circumstances of his arrest and the charge he pleaded guilty to, Ms Lees said Naranjo had a criminal lifestyle and the assumption was that he had obtained the money as a result of his general criminal conduct. 

Justice Quin pointed out that the burden is on the defendant to show that this assumption is incorrect or that there would be a serious risk of injustice if the assumption were made. 

Naranjo submitted two letters from previous employers as part of his effort to show how he had earned his living.  

The judge pointed out that a letter from a watersports operator said Naranjo’s last day with the company was 10 January, 2010, so it did not assist the defendant’s claim. The other letter, from a restaurant, said Naranjo had worked there from 2009 to 2010 as a busboy part-time.  

Naranjo gave evidence about another source of income — he said he flew to Europe several times in the summer of 2010 and sold jewellery, but his receipts had disappeared. 

Justice Quin summed this up by saying: “The defendant has not provided this court with any evidence of his professed income from the sale of jewellery. There is no evidence he makes jewellery. There is no evidence that he purchased jewellery wholesale. There is no evidence he sold jewellery. There are no invoices and no receipts. There is no evidence from any third parties that they bought jewellery from the defendant.” 

The court also received a letter purportedly from Naranjo’s mother. It said she had given him US$2,000 in September 2010 to assist him with his personal expenses. Justice Quin concluded that, on the face of it, this money would have been used to pay Naranjo’s rent for a couple of months, since he had no identifiable source of income at the time. 

As to the risk of injustice, Ms Lees brought evidence that no civil proceedings had been brought against Naranjo and no third party had come forward to claim an interest in the cash. She submitted that there would be no prejudice to any children or family members as a result of a confiscation order. 

Justice Quin said the assumption that the money was the result of Naranjo’s general criminal conduct had not been displaced. He said Naranjo had failed to show that the assumption was incorrect or that there was any serious risk of injustice. 

Naranjo submitted two letters from previous employers as part of his effort to show how he had earned his living.  

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hopefully the profits of crime doesn’t get lost or misplaced somehow!

    In my opinion, confiscated monies from drug related crimes should be placed into drug rehabilitation programs.
    It would be most fitting that drug dealer’s fund the reduction of their own client base.

    Editor(s), please look into the matter as to where the money will actually be going and how it will be spent.

    I think it will make for a most interesting article on how the RCIP operate.

    Thank you for your co-operation in advance.

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