Bail was denied Tuesday for two men accused of being engaged in smuggling after they piloted a private plane carrying gold and cash to Grand Cayman.

Venezuelan nationals Pedro José Benavidez Natera and Juan Carlos Gonzalez Infante are accused of smuggling in relation to US$135,000 in cash that was found on their plane on 4 June.

Both defendants are said to have no ties to Cayman.

“The case is a strong one,” said Crown counsel Garcia Kelly. “Where the case is strong, there is always risk of flight.”

Defence counsel Prathna Bodden said that her clients have consented to police interviews and that they deny knowledge of the money secreted inside the plane. She said the gold on the plane belonged to the passengers and had been properly declared.

Bodden described the investigation as “chaotic, disorganised and simply not good enough”.

“They want to have their day in court and they want to have it quickly,” she said.

Magistrate Valdis Foldats told the defendants that the Crown has a strong case and that they are facing a lengthy stay of imprisonment if they are convicted.

“You were in charge of an airplane and a significant amount of cash was found inside the airplane,” the magistrate told the defendents.

Trial was set for 17 July, and all parties will be back in court 20 June for a case management hearing.

The pair were among four people arrested following an investigation by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control Service.

Police said on Tuesday that the other two people arrested had been granted police bail, and that the ongoing investigation is being conducted in conjunction with law enforcement agencies in other international jurisdictions.

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