Twelve years for importing cocaine in hammocks

Crown and defense agree woman was a “drug mule” rather than organizer of importation scheme

A woman accused of being “drug mule” who brought cocaine hidden in hammocks into Cayman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

Kenecia Millwood, 24, was sentenced on Friday for importation of more than six pounds of cocaine that had been concealed in the wood frames of three hammocks. 

Justice Ingrid Mangatal said she was considering Millwood’s level of blame and the fact that the large amount of cocaine had the potential to cause immense harm to these islands. 

A jury of five women and two men found the defendant guilty on Sept. 25. Sentencing was postponed for a social inquiry report. 

Jurors heard evidence that the cocaine was found when Millwood returned with the hammocks from San Andres, Colombia, on Easter Monday, April 21. Her baggage was put through an X-ray machine, after which a customs officer questioned her about the hammocks because the scan showed a pattern different from what would be expected of wood. There was also a strong scent of paint. 

Millwood’s evidence was that she bought the hammocks as presents and had asked for the frames to be painted because she did not like the look of raw wood. She maintained she did not know or suspect that 6.28 pounds (2.86 kilos) of cocaine was in them. 

The judge said sentencing was not easy, but she had to deter other potential offenders while being fair to Millwood in regard to her personal circumstances. 

Both Crown counsel Laura Mason and defense attorney Lucy Organ agreed that Millwood was a low-level drug mule rather than a courier. The distinction was explained as a courier being someone who has some understanding of the scale of the operation, while the mule is a person “packed up and sent on their way.”  

The maximum sentence in Grand Court for a quantity over two ounces is 35 years and a fine without limit, but both sides noted the principle that the maximum sentence is for the worst possible offense by the worst possible offender. Local guidelines announced 12 years ago set a starting point of 15 years, which may then be increased or decreased depending on aggravating or mitigating features of the offense. 

In this case, Justice Mangatal said that, having regard to the large amount and the sophisticated method of concealment, she arrived at a sentence of 17 years before taking into account Millwood’s personal facts. 

She accepted the defendant’s lesser role in the importation, saying Millwood really did appear to be a person who was vulnerable and easily exploited. She noted that there were no previous convictions, so Millwood had been of good character. The judge said she considered Millwood had had an unfortunate and abusive childhood and youth, lacking parental guidance and support. On top of that, she had been caring for three younger siblings. Millwood had health issues, including alcohol abuse and self-harming behavior. 

The judge recommended that Millwood undergo counseling and psychiatric treatment while in prison. 

Ms. Manson asked for an order for the drugs to be destroyed and Ms Organ asked that Millwood’s time already served bye taken into account. Justice Mangatal granted both requests. 

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