Two men from the fishing boat Shiloh appeared in Summary Court on Friday morning and pleaded guilty to possession of 13.05 ounces of ganja.
Ricardo Dale Johnson, 25, and Roger Agosten Cayasso, 54, pleaded not guilty to the more serious charge of importing the ganja on Tuesday, March 8. After hearing submissions from attorney John Furniss, Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn allowed this charge to lie on file.
Mr. Furniss pointed out that the 90-foot vessel was outside Cayman’s territorial waters when it developed engine problems, broke down and had to be towed in. The two crew members admitted having the ganja for their personal use, but denied any intention to import it.
Senior Crown counsel Tanya Lobban said the pleas to possession were acceptable.
The magistrate said the amount was larger than usual for personal use. She agreed, however, that the men had expected to be at sea for a long period of time.
She imposed prison sentences of seven days’ each, with credit for time served.
Ms. Lobban presented details of the offense. She said a Customs K-9 Unit alerted officers to a black speaker box located near a top bunk in the crew quarters. Johnson identified the stereo and speaker box as his.
When the speaker box was opened, officers found vegetable matter wrapped in two plastic bags. The matter was field tested; it showed positive for ganja. Further questioning led to both men admitting having it in collaboration, intending it for their personal use.
The substance was taken to Cayman’s Forensic Science Lab, where its identification was confirmed.
Leaving the importation charge on file means that it was not proceeded with at this time, but it could be brought back if circumstances changed. If nothing further occurs, the charge could be dismissed after six months.
Mr. Furniss indicated later on Friday that the vessel was still in port being repaired. He hoped the defendants would have served their sentence by the time the Shiloh was ready to depart.
Johnson is from Clarendon, Jamaica. Cayasso’s charge sheet showed a Kingston address.
A press release from the Customs and Immigration departments late Thursday indicated that all 32 crew members had been processed and temporarily admitted to the islands after the vessel’s arrival on Tuesday.