A man who planned to be in Cayman for one day ended up in custody for five days after he was charged with drug offenses at Owen Roberts International Airport.
Andrea Actis Perino, 45, pleaded guilty to possession of .802 gram of cocaine, 4.33 grams of ganja and a ganja grinder with traces of the vegetable matter when he arrived in Cayman on Thursday, June 7.
Senor Crown counsel Candia James said Mr. Perino, an Italian national, had come to Cayman “for only one day” to ensure that he did not overstay in the Bahamas. Immigration officials questioned whether he should be granted entry, then determined that he would have to return to the Bahamas.
He was taken to customs officers for a search of his hand luggage, which revealed a ganja grinder.
While Mr. Perino was being escorted through the airport, he was observed to throw something in a waste basket. Officers retrieved it and it turned out to be a packet of ganja.
After that packet was found, he was taken to a customs search room. In that room, he attempted to dispose of a packet of white powder, which tested as cocaine.
Ms. James handed up photographs to Magistrate Valdis Foldats to illustrate the quantities involved.
She said the defendant had the ganja for medicinal purposes and the cocaine had come into his possession during a party with friends. He said he forgot it was in his hand luggage because he had stopped using that drug two months ago.
Attorney Lee Halliday-Davis was asked to speak on his behalf. She said Mr. Perino accepted the facts. He had been living in Miami; as a result of a divorce, he was suffering from stress and anxiety. He told her he had a picture on his phone of his medical marijuana card. He had been in the Bahamas two or three weeks.
The magistrate noted that medical marijuana did not include the loose “smokable” form and the cocaine was illegal.
The attorney conveyed Mr. Perino’s account of forgetting that he had the items until the plane was descending into Grand Cayman. By that time he could not use the restroom to dispose of the drugs, so he had transferred them from his luggage to his person.
The magistrate said he had difficulty believing that because the hand luggage would have been stowed during descent and Mr. Perino would not have been allowed access.
He pointed out that the defendant was lucky not to have been charged with importation.
Ms. Halliday-Davis said the drugs were for personal use. The magistrate accepted that point, but said he had an issue with the disrespect shown by someone coming into the country with drugs and a utensil.
Ms. James expressed the view that the custody threshold had been passed. The magistrate agreed, but added that the country would have to expend resources to keep Mr. Perino in custody. He also bore in mind the overcrowding at the prison.
He asked about Mr. Perino’s financial position and was advised that the defendant had approximately US$2,000 cash and another US$2,000 available on credit cards.
The magistrate imposed a fine of $2,000 for possession of cocaine and $500 each for possession of the ganja and grinder. The fines totaled $3,000. He ordered the seized items to be destroyed.
Enforcement officers accompanied Mr. Perino to a local bank to arrange payment, after which he was taken to the airport.