An extradition trial for a man wanted in the US on drug and money-laundering charges has been delayed, after the Legal Aid Department refused to pay the bill for a Queen’s Counsel attorney to represent him.
Appearing before the Summary Court on Monday, 7 June, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Infante listened to the proceedings through a Spanish interpreter as his attorney Alex Davies requested the matter be put off, to allow for an appeal over the decision to refuse funding.
“The application for reconsideration of legal aid for a QC has been refused,” Davies told Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn. “We therefore intend to appeal the application under section 38 of the Legal Aid Law.”
Gonzalez Infante arrived in Cayman as a co-pilot on board a private jet, which was chartered from Venezuela to Cayman in May 2019. Upon arrival, he and four other men were arrested and charged with laundering more than $6 million worth of gold weighing 240 pounds, through the Cayman Islands.
All five men were tried and acquitted of all the charges in March 2020.
While the rest of the men were discharged by the courts, Justice Cheryll Richards remanded Gonzales Infante into custody as he is wanted by the Southern District Court of Miami, Florida.
According to both the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Miami Court, Gonzalez Infante has been charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance (cocaine) into the United States, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine into the US, importation of cocaine into the US, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
During the original proceedings, the court was told an arrest warrant was originally issued in February 2011. However, before Gonzalez Infante could be arrested and tried for the charges, he left the US. The charges were discovered by Cayman authorities in 2019 while he was in custody.
The extradition case has been put back for two weeks, to allow Gonzalez Infante’s attorney enough time to appeal the legal aid decision before the Grand Court.
Until then, Gonzalez Infante will remain in custody, but Davies advised Gunn he would be making an application for bail, given his client’s acquittal on the money-laundering charges last year.
“My client has been in custody for the past two years,” said Davies. “In light of the change in circumstances we will be bringing an application for bail in the not-too-distant future.”