Three men found on a yacht with 644 lbs of Marijuana, convicted and sentenced
THREE MEN found on a yacht in 2019 with 644 lbs of Marijuana were convicted on Tuesday and given jail sentences based on their level of involvement in the operation.
Marvin Alexander, a 43-year-old Mechanic of Diamond/Union Island, Mark Bristol, a 52-year-old mason of McCarthy, and Curton Allen, a 42-yearold diver of Clifton Union Island were found guilty of four offences by Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne.
They were found guilty of having in their possession 392,376 g of cannabis, for the purpose of drug trafficking, that they were attempting to export it, and that they had conspired to traffick it.
On February 21, 2019, at 11 pm, a party of coastguard officers headed by CPO 68 Harry was on patrol off the Leeward coast. While they were patrolling, CPO Harry saw the light of a vessel around three nautical miles off the coast of Fancy, which they believed to be a masthead light.
They motored towards the vessel, which was a yacht, and they used a loud hailer to identify themselves to a male that they had spotted on the port side. The yacht ignored them, and continued forward despite two warning shots by the coastguard.
The coastguard eventually intercepted the vessel at around 2:30am on Friday, February 22.
When the coastguard officers boarded the yacht, a search revealed 13 nylon sacks in the compartment of two of the cabins, which were emitting a strong smell of Marijuana.
The men were arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled drug, and they and the yacht were taken back to the Coastguard base.
Corporal 615 LaFleur Williams, the investigating officer, went to the coastguard base later that morning. She took the 13 nylon sacks from the yacht, and the trio, back to the Narcotics base.
The packages were opened and a green substance resembling cannabis was found inside.
When they were cautioned, Allen told them “Officer ah the tall rastaman who put the weed them pon the boat and ah his own.”
Bristol said “Me only help put the weed them pon the boat because me was getting a ride to Antigua foh go do mason work with me cousin.”
Alexander maintained “Officer me get $5000 down payment to buy food and gas foh lick the shot.”
In convicting the men, the chief magistrate noted the submission from Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche that the only contentious issue was whether the coastguard had acted lawfully.
The defense lawyer, Grant Connell, had argued that the men were in St Lucian territorial waters at the time they were apprehended, which introduces certain considerations.
Browne determined that the decisive question on this issue of the pursuit was where it commenced, which was in St Vincent and the Grenadines. This point, she said, is buttressed by Treaties entered into evidence.
Alexander and Allen have already spent 13 months in prison the lawyer indicated, and Bristol spent 11 before he made bail in December, 2019.
Therefore, Connell asked that a non-custodial sentence be imposed in light of the time already spent in jail, and that if a further jail sentence was imposed, that it could be suspended.
The lawyer further asked the court to consider that the “winds of change” were blowing, and what the spirit and intention of Parliament is currently when it comes to Marijuana.
The prosecution countered that “while the conversation as it relates to cannabis in these parts is changing the laws remains the same.”
Delplesche commented that the quantity was very substantial, and that what was aggravating is that the coastguard told the boat to stop, the seas were raging, and warning shots were fired.
He commended the coastguard officers for their bravery. “All night long they were on the seas,” he stated.
The chief magistrate also noted many cases where the Court of Appeal upheld sentences of five and six years incarceration for quantities of the drug that were far less than what the trio was in possession of.
She determined on the evidence before her that Allen had played a lesser role, Alexander (the Captain) played a significant role, and Bristol, a leading role.
Browne also noted that Allen seemed to have no great understanding of the operation, but that Bristol had tried to lay the blame on others.
In the end, she landed at a sentence of one year and four months for Allen, two years and eight months for Alexander, and four years, seven months for Bristol.
Their time already spent in jail will be subtracted from this period.