Wednesday 20 March, 2019

Four Jamaicans sentenced in Cayman for ganja smuggling

Four Jamaican men and one Cayman national were on Friday sentenced to between two-and-a-half years and four years in prison in the Cayman Islands, after they were convicted of importing 515 lbs of ganja into the British overseas territory last September.

They have been identified as Christopher Wright, Oshane Ricketts, Andre Robinson and Nicholas Maxam. The Cayman national has been identified as Yoandy Ebanks-Swaby.

According to media reports, Wright pleaded guilty to his involvement in the crime after he was caught by the Royal Cayman Islands Police (RCIPS) Joint Marine Unit at the same time as Ebanks-Swaby. He was sentenced to 30 months behind bars.

Ricketts, Robinson and Maxam pleaded not guilty to the charges, even though they were  reportedly tracked and located by the Joint Marine Unit. They were convicted at trial and sentenced to 42 months each for their part in the smuggling operation.

As he sentenced the men, magistrate Valdis Foldats commented that the continued drug running from Jamaica to Cayman was being fueled by high demand and a lucrative, profitable market for local dealers, which was undermining society.

Foldats noted that Ebanks-Swaby, the Cayman connection who went in a smaller vessel to meet the delivery canoe carrying the massive ganja haul, pleaded guilty to the charges. But, despite having a lengthy rap sheet, including a firearms offence, he was handed a 34-month prison term.

The magistrate remarked that he did not believe any of the convicted men were the mastermind behind the export from Jamaica because, in his experience, those higher up the chain rarely risk the dangers of the open sea voyage.

As he handed down the jail terms, the magistrate repeatedly raised his concern about the “destructive drug industry” and the number of canoes coming to Cayman loaded with ganja and other drugs, saying that the smugglers were attracted to the crime by the “lure of fast money”. But, he said, they must understand the harm they do by perpetuating the trade.

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