Bail denied for pair charged with 200 pounds of ganja

Magistrate Grace Donalds denied bail on Wednesday for a man and a woman after hearing details of the charges against them – possession and possession with intent to supply over 200 pounds of ganja.

Eduardo Swaby Gutierrez, 32, and Leonela Pedroza, 29, appeared in Summary Court, where Crown counsel Eleanor Fargin set out details of the defendants’ arrests.

She said police went to a West Bay address on Sept. 5 and knocked on the door. Both Swaby and Pedroza were there. At that stage, Swaby said there was ganja in the premises. The officers could smell it. They asked about a door that was locked and Swaby indicated there was a key for it in the kitchen. The key ring had a charm on it with a monkey design and Pedroza said it was hers. The door was unlocked; it led to a laundry area. Inside were five Voyager suitcases and two smaller canvas bags, all packed with ganja.

Ms. Fargin said a scientific evaluation was still being done, but initial indications were that the ganja weighed more than 200 pounds and had a street value of more than $200,000.

In the kitchen, officers found a glass jar with ganja in it and digital scales. There were also 20 cases of quart-size glass jars, 12 jars to a case.

When interviewed, Swaby had no comment. Pedroza said she did not go into the laundry room, she did not use it and had no knowledge of the drugs. She said Swaby was her boyfriend and she lived there with him and he paid the bills.  She told officers she worked in a bar on Seven Mile Beach.

Ms. Fargin told the court that police searched another address connected to Swaby and they found more than $7,000 in cash – CI$4,000 and the rest in U.S. currency. The money is the subject of a charge of possession of criminal property.

The Crown asked that the defendants be remanded in custody.

Defense attorney John Furniss applied for bail on behalf of Swaby. He pointed out that his client owned a business in West Bay and if he were remanded, the business would suffer.

The money found by officers was from Swaby’s shop, he said.

Mr. Furniss said Swaby would deny being in possession of the ganja, which the attorney accepted was a considerable amount. However, Swaby could be bailed with conditions of daily reporting, he suggested, with family members able to provide surety.

Attorney Martha Rankine applied for bail for Pedroza. She said her client had been in Cayman since 2013 and had never been in trouble before. She had no knowledge of the ganja, but pointed out there were other individuals who had access and keys to the property.

Ms. Rankine said Pedroza was working here to support her family in Colombia and she was their only source of income. She begged the court to consider bail because if Pedroza did not go to work that afternoon she would lose her job.

After considering the submissions, the magistrate said she found in both cases that there was an exception to the right to bail.

She therefore refused the applications and set the next mention date for Sept. 14.

Ms. Rankine’s client appeared distressed and the attorney asked to return in two days to renew the bail application.  She was reminded that she could apply to the Grand Court.