Bringing 110 pounds of ganja to Cayman from Jamaica and then staying behind to help dry it resulted in a sentence of 38 months for Christopher Oliver Baker, 46, in Summary Court on Monday.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats pointed out that Baker had been “caught red-handed.”
Crown counsel Greg Walcolm said officers of the Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force went to a Prospect address on Monday, May 22, this year. They saw a white pickup truck parked in front of an apartment and there was an overwhelming smell of ganja.
The officers cordoned off the area and then knocked on the apartment door, shouting that they were police. Two people were observed running to the back of the premises and, as a result, the officers forced open the front door. They saw two individuals trying to get out through the back door and ordered them to get on the floor.
One man ran toward police, struggled with them and then ran from the premises. Baker complied with orders and did not struggle.
He said he had come to Cayman the previous Thursday night with two men from Jamaica. He had stayed with the ganja and they had gone back with the boat.
Mr. Walcolm said the officers reported large quantities of the vegetable matter on the floor of the living room and in the bedroom.
The magistrate noted that laying the ganja out to dry was a further involvement by Baker in addition to importing the illegal substance.
Defense attorney Crister Brady said Baker had taken part in the operation in order to obtain money for his children’s needs.
The magistrate said that was the same tale of woe he heard from all ganja importers. Not many people would admit doing it strictly for profit, he observed. “We have people traveling halfway around the world to come to Cayman to push a lawn mower and they send money back to their children. They are doing an honest day’s work,” he pointed out.
Those who import ganja are the link between the foreign supplier and the local trafficker, Magistrate Foldats pointed out. They are taking part in an illegal industry that includes violence, introduces drugs into the community and the schools, is frequently gang-related and promotes disrespect for the law in general.
Drug abuse continues to be a problem in Cayman, he observed. Week in and week out, he saw people who have lost their jobs and/or their families because of drugs, he said.
“Here I am, sentencing another foreign national who brought misery to our islands,” he summarized. With a starting point of three years, he said Baker’s continued involvement and his previous history were aggravating features that raised the sentence to four years.
The only mitigation was the guilty plea, for which he allowed 20 percent, or 9.6 months, which he rounded off to 10 months. The result was a sentence of 38 months. He had already considered the illegal landing as an aggravating factor, so a sentence of eight months was made to run concurrently.