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PM Gonsalves issues stern warning to would-be drug traffickers

PM Gonsalves issues stern warning to would-be drug traffickers


Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has sent a warning to drug traffickers from neighbouring territories that they will be dealt with severely once found conducting illegal business in Vincentian territory.{{more}}

This comes in the wake of the recent sentencing of three Trinidadian nationals who were sentenced to nine years imprisonment on charges of possessing 472 pounds of marijuana and attempting to export the drugs on May 24, 2011.

Desmond Pavy, Jovel Espenoza and Terry Bannister were intercepted by Coast Guard officials, who after acting on information received, discovered the men in a pirogue off the north eastern coast of the country.

The men tried to throw the drugs overboard following a short chase out at sea. However, the Coast Guard officials were able to retrieve 11 sacks containing the marijuana.

“So those coming up from Trinidad, please know that when we catch you, you will get a long jail term in St Vincent and the Grenadines. From Barbados it’s the same story,” the prime minister said.

He added that he had given instructions for the vessel confiscated in the case of the three Trinidadian officials to be put in good order and given to the Coast Guard to be used in the fight against the illicit drug trade.

This prompted Gonsalves to further warn potential foreign drug traffickers that once caught and convicted that their vessels will be confiscated.

“So understand that it is the law of the land, and understand that the judge and magistrate are prepared to carry out the law of the land,” he said.

The matter of the three Trinidadians had been sent to the High Court for sentencing after Chief Magistrate Sonya Young said that she felt that the crime warranted severe penalties, but that her powers were limited in that regard.

The imprisonment of the men, according to Gonsalves, prompted a number of Trinidadians to applaud the local judicial process after the story was carried in the Trinidadian press but that there were a number of people here who did not appreciate the system.

The maximum sentence is seven years in prison and or a fine of up to $500,000; at the High Court level however, the maximum sentence is 25 years or a fine of up to $5 million. (DD)