By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN who has adopted 10 children was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday after he admitted to trafficking $36,000 worth of cocaine out of the country.
Sergio Demeritte, 33, appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes with Shermaine Munroe, 37, and Shekera Munroe, 40, facing the charge of conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with intent to supply.
Demeritte was individually charged with possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply, taking preparatory steps to export dangerous drugs and exportation of dangerous drugs.
While the Munroe sisters and Demeritte pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy allegation, the 33-year-old admitted guilt on the other charges against him that were committed on May 26.
According to a summary of the facts read by prosecutor Insp Edna Pratt, officials at the Lynden Pindling International Airport observed Demeritte examining his red suitcase and upon approaching him and conducting a search of the suitcase, they found four pairs of tennis shoes that concealed eight wrapped packages of cocaine.
"He was questioned and he stated the items and the bag belonged to him. Drug Enforcement Unit officers were called in and he was arrested and he again admitted to custody of the bag and the drugs," the police prosecutor said.
"They were en route to Fort Lauderdale."
Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes asked the accused if he accepted the facts.
"Yes, sir," Demeritte said.
His lawyer, Bjorn Ferguson, made a plea in mitigation on his behalf, noting that Demeritte "is an electrical helper who has been unemployed and unable to find work for three years."
"He comes from a single family home and due to mounting obligations, he made an irrational decision. But he's remorseful and comes before the court with a contrite heart seeking mercy," Mr Ferguson said.
The lawyer added that Demeritte had no prior run-in with the law and has taken on the responsibility of fathering 10 children who are not his.
The deputy chief magistrate acknowledged the accused's early plea of guilt, lack of antecedents, and cooperation with law enforcement but expressed concern at the frequency of drugs being trafficked into and out of the country's main port of entry.
"It's somewhat hard to understand the logic to participate in this activity," the judge said.
Demeritte was sentenced to four years at the Department of Correctional Services while the Munroe sisters will learn the prosecution's position on June 1 on whether they will stand trial on the conspiracy charge.
They too were remanded to prison in the interim but were advised of their right to apply for bail in the Supreme Court.