50 years ago: Fake detective arrested and deported

In the Feb. 8, 1968 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the following story, titled “Phony ‘detective’ deported; Inspector Archer spearheads investigation,” appeared on the front page:

“Ronald Michel Matta arrived by BWIA from Miami late on Sunday night and this started what was for the Cayman Police Force a four day ‘marathon.’

“Checking in at the Beach Club, Matta commenced his activities on Monday morning by employing taxi drivers S.E. Nembhard and Henry Bush to take him around to boat owners in an endeavour to secure a boat to land him in Jamaica. He so convinced these two men that he was a detective from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after a wanted murdered who was believed to be in Jamaica, that they would not tell the police. Matta would not tell the boat owners his name, only that he was a detective who wanted to be landed in Jamaica in some quiet place where the Immigration authorities would not check him.

“Owen Farrington, Graham Ebanks and Bob Soto were all contracted and made the excuse that the weather was too bad and immediately reported the matter to the police, as did Port Capt. Shelby Hydes when Matta attempted to have his name added to the Crew List of the Kirk Trader which was going to Jamaica.

“Due to the fact that the Chief of Police was in Cayman Brac, Inspector Archer took charge. After learning from Owen Farrington that he believed the name Mitchell and Room 5A had been mentioned to him, the inspector checked with immigration and found that the only Canadian who came in on Sunday night was named Matta. He then investigated Beach Club and found that he was in fact in Room 5A.

“On Monday night Inspector Archer conferred with His Honour the Administrator as a result of which he went to the Beach Club and canceled Matta’s stay and informed him that he should get on the plane on Tuesday on the grounds that he had no passport and thus had entered Cayman illegally. Matta refused to leave. In checking his papers Inspector found that Matta carried a C.R.M.P Deputy Sheriff’s Badge which he used to convince the unwary that he was a detective, also a Notice of Deportation served upon him by the United States Government on the Dec. 22 1967. Among the 7 allegations the U.S. charged that (1) he had entered the States illegally and pretended to be an officer of the Police Force on a Mission for the Government of Jamaica in order to evade meeting financial commitments.

“Matta was found to be in possession of a tear gas gun designed as a pencil and this item was confiscated by police under the Firearms Law.

“After making arrangements for Matta’s passage to be confirmed on the Thursday flight, the inspector gave orders for Matta to be kept under observation by police from then until his departure on Thursday at noon. They guarded the Sound, Whitehall and the Harbour, being the most likely points of exit, and also kept watch over the 10 boats which might be used. Police with revolvers and rifles, knowing that all the Captains had refused to take Matta to Jamaica, were prepared in case an attempt was made to kidnap any of them.

“Mr. E.C. Tibbetts gave valuable assistance in this matter by allowing the Force the use of his personal car so the officers could travel incognito, and offering his services as chauffeur.

“It is reported that Matta also wanted a Caymanian to accompany him to Jamaica and promised that nearing Jamaica he would be shown how to use a .38 revolver. Three men reported being approached to take this assignment.

“Thursday morning, just after breakfast, Sgt. Vernon Ebanks and some Constables went to the Beach Club and assisted Matta in getting ready to board the mid-day flight. As he had no vaccination he was taken to hospital for this, it being required for re-entry into the U.S.

“Matta not only committed two offenses, i.e. illegal entry and inciting men to commit an offense under the Jamaican Immigration Laws but left behind cheques – Beach Club $91.84, S.E. Nembhard $25 and Henry Bush $50 which are yet to be honored.”