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Seven charged in historic drug raid operation in SVG

Seven charged in historic drug raid operation in SVG

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Residents of Rose Place stood furious outside of the Serious Offences Court last Friday, as seven community residents answered to drug and gun related charges, as a result of a police operation conducted two days earlier.

The operation, dubbed ‘Operation Illegal Guns in Rose Place’ or ‘Operation IGIRP,’ netted marijuana, including a mature marijuana plant, cocaine and one firearm and led to the confiscation of sums of money and a number of contraband items, including foreign beers.

As a result, the seven were all brought before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias.{{more}}

Theresa Norville, 71, pleaded not guilty to possession of an Armi Fratelli Tanfoglio 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, serial number H12532, without a licence. She also pleaded not guilty to having 12 rounds of .9mm ammunition without a licence, three grams of cocaine and 10 grams of cannabis.

Norville, who is represented by Michaela Ambrose, was granted bail in the sum of $25,000 with one surety and ordered to report to the Central Police Station on Mondays and Thursdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. She was further ordered to surrender all travel documents and now needs the express permission of the court to leave the jurisdiction.

Norville will reappear before the court September 9 to answer the gun related charges and October 3, 2016 to answer the drug charges.

Mosiah Westfield pleaded guilty to having in his possession 1,167 grams of cannabis and 46 grams of cocaine with intent to supply to another. During the operation, at about 6 a.m, a party of Rapid Response Unit (RRU) officers, headed by Station Sergeant Nolan Dalloway, found wrappings containing the illegal drugs in a house of which Westfield occupied a room on the first floor.

The search continued and police found two black plastic bags, one of which contained a brown taped package containing drugs and police say Westfield replied, “Officer all the weed downstairs ah mine.”

A search of his bedroom revealed a quantity of money in a black bag and a quantity of coins in a transparent bag. PC Caesar, who was also in the party of officers, observed a plate with a razor blade and cocaine residue.

The RRU officer then took up the floor carpet, which covered a long hole in the floor, which contained three transparent Ziploc bags and several silver foil wrappings and EC$3,000 in EC$100 bills.

Police say Westfield said, “Officer all the weed and coke you find in the downstairs is mine and the monies, even though wasn’t mine, but you meet it in the place, so walk with me and charge me.”

When he appeared before the court, Westfield explained that he is unemployed and was given the money while in Bequia after he explained his struggle to someone, who in turn gave him the drugs to hold.

Westfield said he had tried very hard to find a job, but was unsuccessful.

However, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias told Westfield that he picked up the drugs on his way to court in Bequia and pointed out that Westfield lives in a fishing community, but did not consider a fishing job.

“You will agree with me that your actions make no sense,” she said.

Browne added that Westfield’s history is not good and he is not learning.

She added that he had recently appeared before the court and is “ bent on pursuing a criminal lifestyle.”

He was then sentenced to nine months in prison for the cannabis and eight months for the cocaine; the sentences will run concurrently.

Larry Nelson pleaded guilty to having in his possession 1,278 grams of cannabis with intent to supply and for the cultivation of one marijuana plant.

Around 7 a.m. during the same search, police found a plastic bag with the taped packages in a dog pen. They say Nelson replied, “Officer is mine, is me put them deh.”

Nelson told officers that he intended to boil the root of the marijuana plant for his asthmatic son.

While in court, he said he also has a three-year-old daughter, for whom he wanted to buy school books.

However, questioning by Browne-Matthias revealed that the school supplies had already been bought. He was fined $3,000, $1,800 of which was paid forthwith and the balance of $1,200 is to be paid by October 7 or in default, he would be imprisoned for eight months.

“Children seeing these things, they would be tempted to pursue this lifestyle,” said Browne-Matthias.

Nelson was reprimanded and discharged for the cultivation of the plant.

Cornelius Johnny pleaded guilty to having in his possession two grams of cocaine with intent to supply to another. During the operation police found a black plastic bag containing three foil wrappings in Johnny’s pocket.

Johnny told the court that he could not manage financially and had children to take care of. He was fined $950, to be paid forthwith in default of six months imprisonment.

Marcelius Baptiste pleaded not guilty to having one rock of cocaine and was granted bail in the sum of $900, with one surety. Calvert John pleaded not guilty to having 447 grams of cannabis with intent to supply and was granted bail in the sum of $2,000. Patrick Nero pleaded not guilty to having in his possession 93 grams of cannabis. He was granted bail in the sum of $500.

A destruction order was made on all drugs for which cases had already been heard.

The remaining drug related cases would be heard on October 3.

Last Wednesday, July 27, over 100 police officers from various branches of the local constabulary swooped down on the fishing community of Rose Place, where they conducted a six-hour search.

Doors were ripped from hinges and homes raided in what has gone down in history as an historic operation, the first ever of its kind in St Vincent and the Grenadines, because of the nature of the warrant used.

According to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Christopher Benjamin, the operation’s objective was to remove illegal guns from the community, which is known for gun violence.

ACP Benjamin said the police used “a one of a kind search warrant, the first ever applied here, in that the search warrant did not target one person, but gave us the authority to search any house in the area.”

He noted that most persons co-operated, but some felt that their rights were being violated and therefore complained. (AS)

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