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Man Accused Of Role In Drug Smuggling Plot Granted Bail

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A MAN awaiting trial concerning his alleged involvement in a $600,000 cocaine smuggling plot was granted bail in the Supreme Court yesterday.

Leonardo Velez-Escorcia, 33, and his lawyer Carlson Shurland appeared before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs arguing that the accused should be released from the state’s custody ahead of his December 9 trial.

At the Colombian’s arraignment in Magistrates Court last month, Mr Shurland was unable to convince Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes that the accused was a suitable candidate for a bond, even though the charges of conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with intent to supply and conspiracy to import dangerous drugs were not on the restricted list in the 2011 Amended Bail Act.

The accused was told that they could appeal the decision in Supreme Court.

Senior Justice Isaacs granted Velez-Escorcia $25,000 cash bail in a hearing on Thursday.

Velez-Escorcia and Miguel Pineda-Gonzalez, 30, each face a count of conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with intent to supply and conspiracy to import dangerous drugs.

It is alleged that the crimes were committed between September 17 and 25.

On September 25, Bahamian and US law enforcement officials, inclusive of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Defence Force, Bahamas Customs Department, and US counterparts, acted on information and conducted a search of the vessel anchored off Pinder’s Point.

According to initial police reports, during a search a large quantity of suspected cocaine worth $625,000 was found on board. Two men were taken into custody.

Both men deny the allegations and face upwards to seven years imprisonment if convicted of the charges.

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