“When a Venezuelan meet a Colombian in deep south that is a deadly mix that cries drug trafficking.” High Court judge Anthony Carmona, presiding in the San Fernando Court, made the comment yesterday during the mitigation plea of Colombian fisherman Victor Cortez who admitted to having ten crocus bags, containing 270 packets of compressed marijauna, in Barrackpore eight years ago. Cortez, 47, a father of four, who lives in Venezuela, pleaded guilty to possession of 281 kilogrammes of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. He was charged with another man, a Trinidadian, who has ties in Venezuela but has since absconded. Looking at the exhibits, the judge commented that the manner in which the drugs were packaged indicated it was a well organised, well oiled enterprise.
He said it appeared that the marijuana came from abroad since the packages were sealed to prevent water infiltration. “I don’t think Barrackpore had floods at that time of the year,” he quipped. Noting that Barrackpore was close to Morne Diablo in Penal, the judge said the police had great difficulty with drug traffickers coming from Venezuela along the coastline of Morne Diablo, Penal, Palo Seco and Los Iros. However, Cortez’s lawyer, Wilston Campbell, said his client was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He said the Trinidadian man, who Cortez met in Venezuela, “asked him to move some parcels and it turned out to be these parcels.”
Campbell said Cortez had been in custody since his arrest and has served 12 prison years. He said he had no previous convictions and was sorry for his actions. The State’s case, led by State prosecutor Jennifer Martin, was that while hidden in some bushes on Cumuto Road on Septemebr 18, 2004, PC Ryan Baptiste and WPC Steele William saw Cortez and another person enter the bushes. Martin said the other person went into a wooden shack, removed a large crocus bag and handed it to Cortez. Both men were charged and granted $1 million bail, but the Trinidadian man’s bail was later reduced to $100,000. Martin said the maximum penalty was 25 years. The court was assisted by Spanish interpreter Doris Milan. The judge is expected to sentence Cortez on May 29.