A man who admitted to bringing 1.8 pounds of cocaine to Grand Cayman from Cayman Brac was sentenced this week to 15 years’ imprisonment.
Jolyon Arick Frederick received the sentence on Tuesday from Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez, who pointed out that this was not his first cocaine-related offense.
Mr. Frederick, of a Bodden Town address, pleaded guilty previously to possession of cocaine with intent to supply after the illegal substance was found in his backpack at Owen Roberts International Airport on Dec. 5, 2017.
Crown counsel Greg Walcolm explained that Mr. Frederick had just arrived on a flight from Cayman Brac. Cayman residents arriving from the Brac or Little Cayman are not normally checked by customs officers and there is no immigration process, so their arrival “is basically a walk-through.” The passengers simply show their tickets as proof of travel between the islands.
On Dec. 5, however, there was a team of customs and police officers in the airport arrival section. One of the officers asked Mr. Frederick to put his backpack on the counter. As the officer started to unzip the backpack, Mr. Fredrick snatched it and attempted to run toward the exit. He was pursued, a struggle ensued and he was subdued.
Mr. Walcolm related that during the struggle, a clear plastic bag containing a white substance fell out of the backpack and another bag was visible inside. A search revealed nine packages in total. Laboratory tests later showed them to contain cocaine, with a total weight of .8 kilogram or 1.8 pounds.
When Mr. Frederick was arrested, two days before his 30th birthday, he said someone had threatened him “to take them across.” He was asked who and he said he did not know the man. He was interviewed, but never gave police any assistance as to who had threatened him.
When he entered his guilty plea in March, defense attorney Gregory Burke asked the court to order a social inquiry report and this was done. This week, Mr. Burke spoke in mitigation and submitted that his client was an intermediary or courier.
The magistrate disagreed. She accepted that Mr. Frederick was not the only person involved, but she said his role in this operation was major. He was a young Caymanian who previously had held a good job with government.
She observed that Cayman society too often blames outsiders for social ills, “but we must take responsibility for this scourge on our society of drug trafficking and supply …. You are part of this problem we have with drugs in our society,” she told Mr. Frederick.
The magistrate commented that Cayman Brac has been used as an “easy transit point” because of the apparent lack of scrutiny. She commended police and border control personnel for their diligence and successes in trying to curb the drug epidemic.
Young men and women are victims of the ill effects of drugs, she said: “The court has to send a deterrent message.”
According to guidelines set in 2002, the starting point for a second offense involving cocaine is 20 years.
The magistrate pointed out that when Mr. Frederick committed this offense, he was on bail for a charge of possessing cocaine with intent to supply in 2014. The trial for that case had already started and was scheduled to continue, but when Mr. Frederick pleaded guilty to the December charge, he also pleaded guilty to simple possession in the 2014 case. The Crown accepted that plea, which related to about 16 grams.
The magistrate used the starting point of 20 years and gave Mr. Frederick a full one-third credit for his plea, taking the sentence to 13 and a half years. But then she considered the aggravating features, including the quantity and his previous offense. These factors raised the sentence to 15 years. She found there were no mitigating factors.
Traffic and drug consumption charges were dealt with by way of concurrent sentences.
Mr. Burke later confirmed the defendant’s intention to appeal the sentence.