The two men who piloted a private plane allegedly involved in smuggling cash to Grand Cayman were charged with an additional count of use or control of criminal property on Thursday afternoon.
Juan Carlos Gonzales Infante and Pedro Jose Benavides Natera, who had previously been charged with being engaged in smuggling, were read the additional charge before their court appearance. The two men, both Venezuelan nationals, are tentatively set for a trial date on 17 July.
Two additional passengers of the flight, which was carrying a quantity of gold and $135,000 in undeclared cash, were charged with money laundering. Those two men, Daniel Aguilar-Ferriozzi and Francisco Ventura Herrera, were also in court Thursday to reschedule their proceedings.
Aguilar-Ferriozzi and Herrera were scheduled to have a preliminary inquiry into their case on 5 Aug., but that matter was changed to 31 July.
The crown counsel was ordered to file a trial bundle to the defence by 17 July.
One point of contention emerged Thursday when crown counsel Garcia Kelly said he’d like both Aguilar-Ferriozzi and Herrera to consent to an evidential swab for DNA analysis.
Defence counsel Rupert Wheeler said his clients had already provided a swab at the beginning of the investigation and were not clear on why they should be compelled to provide another. Magistrate Valdis Foldats asked the defence counsel to answer by 3pm whether they would consent to another DNA swab.
The court had heard on a prior occasion that the cash – $135,000 found on the plane by a Customs and Border Control sniffer dog – did not bear the fingerprints of either Infante or Natera.
Defence counsel Prathna Bodden, who represents Infante, said Thursday that the crown has not been able to provide evidence of DNA as part of their pre-trial disclosure. Bodden said she was told last week that it could take five weeks to provide that evidence, endangering the 17 July trial date.
“We have since asked the powers that be to expedite that process,” said Kelly. “And I understand resources have been deployed to have that done as a matter of urgency.”
Both Aguilar-Ferriozzi and Herrera are out on bail, while Infante and Natera are still remanded into custody. Bodden said Thursday that the matter has not been dealt with expediently, and that her request for a bail hearing is complicated by the impending trial date.
“If there’s going to be a trial on the 17th,” she said, “There will be no bail application.”
The two sides will meet again Friday at 2:30pm to discuss whether the trial will be delayed and whether the defence will ask for bail for both Infante and Natera.