Vincentians charged in Montserrat drug bust

BRADES, Montserrat, Wednesday June 30, 2010 – Five nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines who were held in connection with a major marijuana seizure last Friday are now facing the courts in Montserrat.

The men, ranging from age 20 to 40, have been jointly charged with drug trafficking, possession of cannabis sativa with intent to supply, and possession of cannabis sativa. Each of the men is also separately charged with conspiracy to engage in drug trafficking and conspiracy to import a controlled drug.

They are scheduled to appear in the magistrate’s court today for a full bail hearing.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Morris said the street value of the drugs was EC$2.2 million (US$819,374). A previous statement from HMS Manchester, the British vessel involved in the drug bust, had said the marijuana was valued in the UK at £1.5 million (US$2.2 million).

Morris says the police force is continuing to investigate the case and it was, therefore, too early to say whether the drugs were to remain in Montserrat or whether the island was a merely a transshipment point. 

A total of 350 kg (770 lbs) of marijuana was seized in the operation involving the Royal Montserrat Police Force and the HMS Manchester, which had been on a three-day courtesy call on the British Overseas Territory.

A helicopter from the ship was conducting aerial reconnaissance around the island when a power boat was observed “operating in a manner that raised suspicion of illicit activity”, according to a statement from the HMS Manchester. 

Twelve bales, each containing 25 kg (55.1 lbs) of marijuana, were found on a nearby beach.