Venezuelan shot, 35 lbs cocaine seized
From the Courts
October 15, 2004
Venezuelan shot, 35 lbs cocaine seized

Six Venezuelan nationals arrested here in the waters off Pigeon Island near Bequia Friday evening will not be seeing their homeland for at least a few weeks.

Juan Lopez, Jose Maestre, Efran Lopez, Yannis Manuel, Luis Lopez and Omar Motano were remanded in custody Tuesday afternoon when they appeared before the Serious Offences Court. {{more}}They pleaded not guilty to charges of cocaine importation and cocaine possession with intent to supply.

During their appearance in court, Prosecutor Inspector Adolphus Delpesche objected to their bail on the grounds that the accused are non-nationals, and he feared that they might abscond since the cocaine is a Class A drug, and of a substantial quantity. He therefore asked the court for a five month adjournment.

Defence lawyer Ronald Marks argued that under this country’s Constitution, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He also said that, according to his instructions, the drug was not found in the boat in which his clients were travelling, neither was it found on their persons.

Marks also contended that his clients happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He asked for an adjournment period of three weeks.

Chief Magistrate Simone Churaman said the Venezuelans would be remanded in custody until November 2 when the court will hear the matter again. She said she was remanding them in light of the seriousness of the charge.

She also said that if they are convicted it was likely that a custodial sentence would be imposed.

The Venezuelans were caught in the area of Pigeon Island off Bequia last Friday night. They were said to have been in a speedboat equipped with four 75HP outboard engines.

Police seized thirty five pounds of cocaine during the operation in which one Venezuelan, Yannis Manuel, was shot.

Reports said the Venezuelans opened fire on the local law men who responded. They were however not charged with any firearm related offence.