Man admits possessing 220 pounds of ganja

Defendant says girlfriend did not know about the drug

West Bay resident Eduardo Swaby Gutierrez pleaded guilty on Wednesday to possession of 220 pounds of ganja with intent to supply.

It was his second appearance in Summary Court on this charge. He first was brought to court on Sept. 7 with his girlfriend, Leonela Cogollo Pedroza, who resided with him at the premises where the ganja was found. Both were initially remanded in custody for one week.

On Wednesday, defense attorney John Furniss accepted that Swaby, 32, had given a no comment interview to police about the ganja. However, he now accepted that all of the ganja was his. He said his girlfriend knew nothing about it.

By the time Swaby was being dealt with, Pedroza had already been returned to custody. Her attorney had attended court earlier and her matter was adjourned until Sept. 28. Pedroza, 29, had told police from the beginning that she knew nothing about the ganja.

Senior Crown counsel Tricia Hutchinson indicated that the woman’s case might be brought back earlier.

Swaby’s sentence was set for Thursday, Sept. 15.

Ms. Hutchinson told Magistrate Grace Donalds that officers from the Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force went to Swaby’s residence at 11:20 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5, to execute a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Law.

Both Swaby and Pedroza identified themselves as occupants of the premises. Swaby told the officers there was “weed” in the kitchen and indicated some was in the laundry room also.

Officers found five large suitcases and two rice sacks containing the 220 pounds of ganja in the laundry room.Money and other items were also seized. The money, about $7,000, is the subject of a charge of possessing criminal property.

Mr. Furniss cited precedents from other Summary Court cases in which amounts of ganja in the 200-pound range had attracted sentences of around three years. With a one-third discount for the early guilty plea, he suggested that Swaby’s sentence should be in the two-year range.