A Grand Court jury on Friday unanimously convicted customs officer David Karl Lobo on one of two counts of being involved in smuggling cocaine into the Cayman Islands.
The jury found Mr. Lobo, who worked in the Fraud Enforcement Division of the Customs Department, guilty of a charge of “being knowingly concerned” in the importation of 1.8 kilograms of cocaine. They acquitted him, by a majority verdict, of an identical second charge.
The charges stem from a pair of incidents in May and June of 2017 in which Mr. Lobo allegedly conspired with Alan Taylor Dominguez and Lesme Perez Ruiz to bring cocaine into the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Dominguez and Mr. Perez Ruiz both pleaded guilty and testified against Mr. Lobo in court.
Patrick Moran, the acting director of public prosecutions, sought to prove that Mr. Lobo had aided Mr. Perez Ruiz in bringing cocaine into Cayman from Colombia and ultimately selling it.
The defendant admitted in court that he had sent wire transfers to Mr. Ruiz before his journeys from Colombia to Cayman. He also said he had made multiple visits to the hotel where Mr. Ruiz and his accomplices were converting liquid cocaine into powder.
Mr. Lobo also admitted purchasing a digital scale and bringing castor oil to Mr. Perez Ruiz, but he denied any knowledge of a conspiracy to bring cocaine into Cayman. Mr. Lobo was arrested with $13,400 in his possession after leaving Mr. Perez Ruiz’s hotel on the afternoon of June 2, 2017.
The defendant claimed he had been attempting to purchase antique pre-Columbian gold statues from Mr. Perez Ruiz, and said the money found in his car was intended to be used to purchase a vehicle in Honduras.
During his testimony, he told the jury, “One billion percent, I was never involved in any conspiracy or any conversations dealing with importing cocaine to the Cayman Islands or anywhere else in the world.”
Mr. Perez Ruiz detailed a pair of efforts to bring cocaine into Cayman. He said that on the first occasion, in mid-May, he accompanied two drug mules who had ingested a kilogram of liquid cocaine in condoms. Mr. Perez Ruiz said that they repeated the process with nearly two kilograms of cocaine in late May.
Defense counsel Amelia Fosuhene attempted to demonstrate to the jury that Mr. Perez Ruiz and Mr. Dominguez had not been entirely truthful in their testimony.
The jury of five women and two men deliberated for four hours on Thursday afternoon and for another two hours on Friday before Justice Linda Dobbs informed them that they could issue a majority decision.
Mr. Lobo, who was acquitted of a similar charge of importation of cocaine in Grand Court in 2013, wept upon hearing Friday’s verdict and was remanded into custody a short time later.
Mr. Lobo, Mr. Dominguez and Mr. Perez Ruiz will be back in court for sentencing on Feb. 27.
The Cayman Compass previously reported that Mr. Lobo was placed on leave from his Customs post shortly after being arrested in June 2017.
Charles Clifford, the Cayman Islands Collector of Customs, was not immediately available for comment Friday on Mr. Lobo’s employment status.