Ganja in jars, money in a teapot and guns in a locked suitcase were among items police found last year that led to a charge of conspiracy to supply ganja. On Tuesday, Chadwick Cameron Ebanks, 40, and Ralston Benjamin Ebanks, 41, pleaded guilty to conspiring, with others unknown, to supply the illegal drug on or before July 6, 2017.
They also pleaded guilty to possession of criminal property – different sums of cash.
Mr. Chadwick had previously pleaded guilty to possession of two unlicensed air pistols, which police found under his pillow in a bedroom of a house in Mount Pleasant, West Bay.
Mr. Ralston previously pleaded guilty to possession of a Ruger semi-automatic revolver, a .38 caliber revolver with one live round in it and four rounds of 9-millimeter Ruger ammunition.
Crown counsel Toyin Salako told Justice Philip St. John-Stevens that Mr. Cameron was arrested on July 6, 2017, on an unrelated matter. Police then went with a search warrant to his West Bay residence, where they seized a number of items, including a box containing 13 jars of ganja in the front living area, five large parcels of ganja in a bedroom along with empty jars, a set of scales and large knife, and in Mr. Chadwick’s bedroom a duffle bag with equipment for the air pistols.
Officers also found a briefcase concealed between two mattresses in another room. It was locked and they forced it open. It contained correspondence in Mr. Ralston’s name, the handguns and ammunition, CI$51,025 and US$12,000.
Ms. Salako said Mr. Chadwick told police about cash in the house when he was interviewed. They searched the kitchen and found $2,100 in one jar, $980 in another jar, and $7,224 in a teapot. She noted that Mr. Chadwick was employed at a bank at the time, so it seemed implausible that he would save large sums, as he suggested, in jars in a kitchen cupboard.
In a prepared statement, Mr. Chadwick said the drugs were brought to the house four months earlier by two men who said they had found it wet on the beach while they were out fishing. Together they salvaged what they could, placed it in jars to be used as cannabis oil or tea. He denied any intention of selling it. Officers did not find any evidence of cannabis oil or tea at the premises. Total weight of the ganja found was 13.8 pounds.
Mr. Ralston was arrested on July 18 at his residence in George Town. At the time, he was in possession of a bag with five packs of ganja, each wrapped in a transparent bag. Total weight was 4.2 ounces. In a prepared statement later, Mr. Ralston denied any knowledge of the drugs found in Mr. Chadwick’s home and said the ganja he had on him was for personal use.
Ms. Salako handed the judge photos showing the search of the West Bay premises.
Justice St. John-Stevens summed up the situation when he commented, “You’ve got dealers of cannabis with their stock, their financial float, and means to protect their drugs and money.”
Attorney Jonathon Hughes spoke on behalf of Mr. Chadwick, saying his client was subject to a maximum sentence of seven years for the ganja charge. He said his client did not know that a license was required for BB guns.
Ms. Salako said the Crown accepted that the air pistols did not fall under the minimum sentence provisions of the Firearms Law.
Attorney Nicholas Dixey, who spoke for Mr. Ralston, said his client was subject to the statutory minimum of seven years. Having two firearms aggravated the matter. Mr. Ralston had been out of trouble for 14 years, but an earlier conviction for ganja with intent to supply meant that he was now subject to a sentence of up to 15 years.
The judge, scheduled to leave Cayman on Feb. 23, said he would not be handing down sentences until April 12, and attorneys could send him any further submissions by March 9. Meanwhile, he remanded both defendants in continued custody.