By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A Drug Enforcement Unit officer yesterday testified about discovering three bags with suspected cocaine on a vessel captained by a Dominican and Colombian national in the Exuma chain last year.
Police Sgt Byron Brown, attached to the DEU, was giving evidence at the trial of Juan Cabrera, 56, of the Dominican Republic and Luis Colmenares, 26, of Colombia.
The two men are charged with conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with intent to supply, conspiracy to import cocaine, possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply and importation of drugs.
The charges stem from allegations that they were found with 61lbs of cocaine, estimated to be worth $432,000, in Clarence Town, Long Island, and George Town, Exuma, last August.
Officers further allege the men conspired to possess the drugs and imported them into the country the same month.
The men have denied the allegations.
At the resumption of their trial yesterday, Sgt Brown testified of his involvement in arresting the nationals following officers’ seizure of the cocaine.
He told the court that around 3am on August 30 he was on duty at the DEU when he received certain information concerning the accused.
The DEU officer said that after receiving that information, he and other officers went to the police marine base in Nassau and left by boat shortly afterwards for George Town, Exuma.
The police sergeant said upon arrival on the island, officers were given further instructions and later directed to a 44ft vessel that bore the name “Campbell”.
The two men on board the boat gave officers their names, he said, and later told officers they were heading for Bermuda and had only stopped at Long Island on their way to refuel their vessel.
Sgt Brown said that a search of the vessel was subsequently conducted and resulted in the discovery of three bags containing suspected cocaine.
He said the drugs were found in the vessel’s lower deck in what, he said, appeared to be an engine room.
“(It was) behind a wooden compartment in the room,” he told the court.
After seizing the suspected drugs, Sgt Brown said the men were subsequently arrested and taken to New Providence for further processing.
During an interview with police, Sgt Brown said Cabrera, who was the captain of the vessel, strongly denied the drugs.
“(Cabrera) said ‘I have done nothing illegal, nor will I do anything illegal,’” he said.
As for Colmenares, the DEU officer said he told officers he was uncertain how the drugs even got on the vessel.
According to the witness, the men also reported to police that they were hired by a company to transport the boat to Bermuda from Colombia and even showed officers their contract.
However, Sgt Brown said officers were unable to successfully reach company officials to verify this information despite several attempts.
Attempts to find the owner of the vessel were also unsuccessful, he added.
During cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Inspector Timothy Bain asked the witness if police knew how long the men had the boat in their possession.
Sgt Brown said he believed it was two weeks.
When asked by the magistrate if police took any photographs of where the drugs were found inside the boat, the witness said they did, but did not save them.
The case continues on February 17. Attorney Ernie Wallace is representing the accused.