A 22-year-old fisherman of Toco, Trinidad was, on Wednesday, fined EC$21,000 for cocaine and ammunition found among brown sugar in a pirogue off St. Vincent.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne imposed prison terms as alternatives if Dion Harry did not pay the fines.
She further ordered that he, as well as the three men who were jointly charged with him, be removed from the country.
On Tuesday, Harry, along with Joel Medina, Andre Lee, and Kerry Keller, also of Trinidad and Tobago, was brought before the court charge that on Oct. 14, at Canouan, they had in their possession 330 grammes of cocaine with intent to supply it to another, had it for the purpose of drug trafficking, and attempted to import the drug into the country.
They men were further charged with possession of 20 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition without a licenced under the Firearms Act and possession of 49 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition without a licence issued under the Firearms Act,
Harry pleaded guilty to the charges while his co-accused pleaded not guilty.
The men maintained their respective pleas when they returned to court on Wednesday, and prosecutor Station Sergeant of Police Renrick Cato withdrew the charges against the other accused men.
The court granted the prosecution’s application for a removal order for the three men against whom the charges were withdrawn.
The facts, as presented by Cato, are that on Oct. 14, acting on information, the Coast Guard intercepted a white, blue and green pirogue, west of Canouan.
The vessel was met at a standstill in the water with four occupants, including Harry, on board.
Coast Guard personnel boarded the vessel and the men consented to a search of their persons. Nothing illegal was found.
Harry consented to a search of the vessel being conducted at the Coast Guard base.
During this search, officers found a black plastic bag among some brown sugar.
In that black plastic bag, police found a light brown, fudge-like substance resembling cocaine and a package with several rounds of ammunition.
Harry was cautioned and made no response.
The light brown fudge-like substance was counted in Harry’s presence and amounted to 16 packages, and the ammunition was as mentioned in the charges.
Harry was taken to the Narcotics Base and the drug was weighted and samples taken in his presence.
Station Sergeant of Police Julian Cain, a gazetted ballistic expert. checked the ammunition and found them to be live.
Harry was electronically interviewed and was charged.
Cato said Harry had no antecedents before the court.
In mitigation, defence counsel Duane Daniel told the court that his client has no children nor previous conviction.
He said Harry is a fisherman and owns a boat, and noted that no weapons were found in the vessel.
Daniel said that while his client was met off St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he had hitched a ride on the boat and had the items in his personal possession.
He said that the cocaine was just over half a pound, adding that he was mentioning this because SVG generally does not use the metric system and this gives the court an idea of the quantity.
The lawyer said that his client cooperated with the police and entered a plea of guilty, has no previous conviction, and is relatively youthful.
He said that regarding the charge of possession of the cocaine with intent to supply, his instructions are that the men were off the coast of Grenada and St. Vincent was not even their destination.
“But the Coast Guard, in the exercise of their duty, saw the vessel and boarded it and took them to an SVG port,” Daniel said, adding that his client was throwing himself at the mercy of the court.
He said Harry had three of the strongest mitigating features in his favour: his youth, a guilty plea and no previous conviction.
“I can only ask that a fine be imposed coupled with an order for deportation,” Daniel said, adding that the cocaine is estimated to have a street value of EC$5,000.
The chief magistrate noted that the court can impose a fine of up to three times the value of the drug.
For the cocaine charges, the chief magistrate fined Harry EC$6,000 for possession or six months in prison and EC$3,500 on each of the importation and trafficking charges or an alternative of three months in prison on each charge.
Regarding the 49 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, after the one-third discount for the guilty plea, the fine was EC$6,534 or eight months in prison.
For the 20 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, the chief magistrate imposed a fine of EC$2,000 — after the one-third discount — or six months.
She ordered that the cocaine be destroyed, the ammunition confiscated and that Harry be removed from the country after complying with the order of the court.
“Feel free to come back to St. Vincent and the Grenadines anytime, just do it properly,” Browne said.
“We love to have people here but do it correctly, just as the government of Trinidad and Tobago would like us to come correctly,” she said.