Cocaine washes ashore at East End resort

This was not the kind of “white Christmas” that Bing Crosby was singing about.

A resort security guard was confronted by a masked man wielding a machete after tourists found several bricks of cocaine washed up on an East End beach.

Holidaymakers were relaxing and playing volleyball when the drugs washed ashore at Morritt’s Tortuga Resort on Christmas Eve, according to manager Jose Kirchman.

He said there were numerous brick-shaped packages, tightly wrapped in what looked like black bin liners. A resort security guard secured the drugs while they waited for the police to arrive.

Before officers arrived on the scene, around 4:30 p.m., he said, the man with the machete turned up and took the packages.

He said the tourists who had found the packages, regular visitors to the resort, had taken the incident well but other guests were left shaken and he has added additional security.

“It is OK; thankfully, no one was hurt. Some of the guests were pretty upset,” he added.

More details of the incident emerged Wednesday when a man accused of taking the packages appeared in Summary Court.

Marvin Gregory Grant, 35, appeared before Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez charged with robbery – using force to steal between 50 and 60 pounds of cocaine from the security guard; possession of cocaine with intent to supply; and possession of an offensive weapon, the machete.

He was refused bail.

Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson said a guest was on the beach at Morritt’s some time after 3 p.m. when he saw a large package in what looked like a rice bag. It was washed up under a beach chair.

He suspected it might contain drugs and told a security guard about it. He then made a closer inspection and saw individual brick-shaped packages. He broke one open and found white powder, which he suspected to be cocaine. He told the security guard, who secured the package and called police.

While they were there waiting, a man approached. He was wearing khaki cargo pants, a white shirt and a shirt as a mask; he was carrying a machete. He said “Gimme this,” then picked up the bag and waved the machete at the guard.

One of the packages fell from the bag as the man ran away.

The security guard attempted to follow, but his path was blocked by a red pickup truck. Meanwhile, the masked man ran toward a gray car, put the package inside and drove away. The red truck followed.

When police arrived, they took custody of the package that had fallen from the bag. It field-tested as cocaine, and its weight was estimated as roughly a kilo.

Mr. Ferguson said the guest who looked at the bag thought there were 15 to 20 packages inside.

Police secured CCTV from the resort and reviewed it. They saw a gray BMW enter the property and a man exit the vehicle to go toward the beach. His face was not covered at the time. He apparently had a conversation with someone and went back to the car.

The car left that area and went into the parking lot, where it was left facing the road.

A man exited the car with his face covered. He went toward the beach and then ran back to the car.

The quality of the CCTV pictures was exceptionally good, Mr. Ferguson noted.

That night, police went to a residence where they found Mr. Grant. A search was made of the premises and vehicle, but nothing was recovered. Police then attended Mr. Grant’s residence in North Side, where they recovered cargo pants and a white T-shirt.

Mr. Grant was interviewed under caution on Dec. 26. Asked about his whereabouts on Dec. 24, he gave an alibi. After he was shown the CCTV, however, he gave “no comment” answers to questions posed.

Mr. Ferguson submitted that the evidence was overwhelming, the nexus being between Mr. Grant entering the premises with his face showing and then coming back wearing the same clothes with a white shirt on his face and carrying a machete.

He said a large amount of the cocaine was yet to be recovered.

Defense attorney Prathna Bodden disagreed about the quality of the CCTV; in her view the images were not excellent.

She argued that the only objection to bail would have to be fear of interference with the investigation, but that could easily be met. Mr. Grant had no previous convictions for drugs or violence, she pointed out. He was a family man and wanted to get back to work to support his family. His house and car had been searched and nothing found, she said.

The magistrate pointed out that a significant amount of the drug was still missing and other people were reportedly involved.

Robbery is a charge that goes directly to Grand Court, she noted, and she transmitted the charges to be mentioned in the higher court on Friday, Jan. 12.

The magistrate ordered that Ms. Bodden be given the papers in the case within 24 hours so that she could apply for bail in the Grand Court.

Cayman Compass reporter Carol Winker contributed to this report.