Trial got under way on Wednesday for three men who admitted their involvement with ganja, but denied any knowledge of a firearm, ammunition and cocaine found inside packages of the illegal vegetable matter.

Crown counsel Garcia Kelly opened the case to the jury by relating an incident on the night of March 2, 2018, that resulted in the arrest of Assad Adana Walker, Fitzroy Ottey and Owen Omar Reid.

He said Cayman’s Joint Marine Unit was patrolling at sea around the northeast corner of Grand Cayman when officers observed a Jamaican canoe-style vessel with three people aboard. The men in the canoe attempted to evade capture and sped off.

The Air Support Unit was deployed and began searching the area where the 28-foot blue and gray canoe had last been seen. Air Support officers observed men throwing packages overboard and videoed these actions.

The three men were detained and the area searched; 16 packages were recovered.

The men were arrested for importation of ganja.

The packages were taken to the Customs Department to be X-rayed. During the scanning of a package, an object was seen that appeared to be a firearm. Further examination revealed a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver. Inside a green drink bottle, 49 rounds of ammunition were found.

Days later, when a chemist was examining packages of vegetable matter, 10 off-white pellets were found; they tested as a total of 101 grams of cocaine. The chemist also found a plastic bag with 97 orange tablets that proved to be MDMA, known as ecstasy.

When interviewed, Mr. Walker indicated he was the captain of the boat and was to be paid JA$50,000 (CI$325) to do a delivery to Cayman. He admitted knowing the packages contained ganja, but denied knowledge of any firearm.

Mr. Ottey told authorities he had been paid JA$100,000 and expected to receive JA$300,000. He said he rented the boat and the ganja was brought to him, but if he had known about the gun he would not have got involved.

Mr. Reid admitted knowing about the ganja while still in Jamaica, but denied any knowledge of any firearm aboard the vessel. He admitted throwing packages overboard in an attempt to avoid capture.

Mr. Walker is represented by attorney Amelia Fosuhene, Mr. Ottey by attorney Jonathon Hughes, and Mr. Reid by attorney Prathna Bodden.

The matter is being heard by Justice Marlene Carter with a jury of four men and three women.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.