Two Jamaican nationals received prison sentences Wednesday for their roles in importing more than 800 pounds of ganja to Cayman.

Xavier Shane Watson, 43, and Malson Campbell, 66, pleaded guilty to importation of ganja, importation of cannabis oil and importation of cannabis resin. Watson was sentenced to 30 months in prison by Magistrate Valdis Foldats, and Campbell was sentenced to 28 months.

The court heard Wednesday that the pair and a third co-conspirator, Dalton Alphonso Wright, were apprehended on 18 March after being approached by police officers while on a boat located 11.5 nautical miles away from Grand Cayman. During a brief chase, Watson and Campbell were seen throwing packages overboard which were later determined to contain ganja.

Crown counsel Darlene Oko said that the police recovered 810 pounds of ganja, 1.29 grammes of cannabis oil and 2.1 pounds of cannabis resin once the vessel was stopped. Oko said that the street value of the ganja was CI$939,000, but neither Watson or Campbell played a leading role in the operation.

“They are not the masterminds,” she said. “They don’t appear to be the organisers.”

Oko also said that very little could be said of aggravating or mitigating factors in the case. Watson was said to have a prior conviction record of theft and illegal landing in Cayman.

Prathna Bodden, Watson’s defence counsel, said that the facts of the case were admitted. Watson has two children in Cayman, she said, and he had no previous convictions for drug-related offences.

Oliver Grimwood, who represented Campbell, said he was a man of good character who was not proud of his actions and who had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Magistrate Foldats said that importation of ganja carries a starting point of four years’ imprisonment, and he gave Campbell credit for having good character. He awarded Watson partial credit for having no drug-related convictions on his record.

Campbell was awarded six months off for good character and a full one-third reduction for pleading guilty early, bringing his sentence to 28 months. Watson was given three months off for having no prior drug-related offences and a one-third reduction for an early plea, bringing his sentence to 30 months.

“Mr. Watson, I accept you’re remorseful,” said Magistrate Foldats. “You’ve been convicted before. You went to jail. … That wasn’t enough to make you change your lifestyle.”

Campbell and Watson were also sentenced six months for importation of cannabis oil and six months for importation of cannabis resin, but those sentences will run concurrently.

“Drug abuse in the Cayman Islands continues to be a significant problem,” said Magistrate Foldats. “I hope you now think about what you’ve done and realise how wrong it was.”

The third member of the group, Dalton Alphonso Wright, will next appear in court on 20 June. In addition to the importation charges, he also faces a charge of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence and reckless and negligent acts. The court heard Wednesday that Wright is accused of brandishing a firearm at officers and also ramming their boat with the drug vessel.

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