L-R: Gerry Freeman, James Telesforde John, Hugh ‘Chris’ Erickson, Jomo Jack and Leon King
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and police have been able to obtain phone records to help prove their case against the five charged in connection with the August Road Town Cruise Ship Dock interception involving $11.4M worth of cocaine and a total of $688,465.00 cash.
Prosecutor Valston Graham told the court today, September 25, that the file which includes relevant statements from police officers, transcripts from interviews and phone records has been completed.
He noted, however, that they are awaiting additional information on the phone records, but that will not prevent them from starting the trial. Graham said disclosure will be made today to the lawyers for the men.
The trial will commence on October 23.
The five men, James Telesforde John, 62, a captain from Newbush, Tortola; Jomo Jolan Jack, a 28 year-old trucker from St. Vincent; Hugh 'Chris' Erickson, a 42 year-old a self employed man from West End; Leon King, a 31 year-old captain from Cane Garden Bay; and Gerry Freeman, a 48 year-old unemployed man from St. Thomas have pleaded not guilty to drug and money laundering offenses in relation to 114 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $11.4M and a total of $688,465.00 cash which was recovered.
Attorney-at-Law Anthea Smith of JS Archibald & Co. appeared for Erickson and Freeman, while Attorney-at-Law Stephen Daniels appeared for John and Jack and Attorney-at-Law Ruthilia Maximea for King.
All the men remain on remand.
According to Prosecution, the case surrounds an investigation into drug importation and money laundering where the men allegedly formed a conspiracy to import cocaine and to launder the proceeds of crime.
It is alleged that on August 8, members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) received intelligence that Jack had entered the Territory from Antigua at Beef Island Airport. Graham said Police believe that his visit was in no way to take part in the Emancipation celebrations, but rather he came to shepherd the sale of cocaine.
Armed with the information, Police followed him and later that day observed he had a meeting with King in town. Jack had reservations at the Fort Burt Hotel.
King was driving a bronze Kia vehicle #PI 203. He stated that on August 9, the surveillance continued where Police observed the same Kia jeep exiting the parking lot of Fort Burt Hotel and drove to the car park adjacent to the Central Administration Complex.
The Kia jeep parked next to a Rav4 #PV 13225 and there, the drivers of both vehicles then got out and stood at the rear of the Rav4 vehicle and appeared to have been conducting an inspection. They all got into their respective vehicles and drove off in different directions. At the time, the drivers were not identified by Police due to the distance from which the observation was being conducted.
On Friday, August 10 around 11:30 am, the Kia #PI 203, driven by King and Jack in the front passenger seat, entered the same car park at the admin building in the area of the cruise ship dock. There, they allegedly met with the driver of the same Rav4 and on this occasion, Police Officers identified the driver of that vehicle to be John. He then got into the Kia jeep and the vehicle moved off towards the exit at the east of the admin building.
At that same time the meeting between King, Jack and John was taking place, Police observed a Toyota Tundra truck #PM 81 in the same neighborhood being driven by Erickson, who was accompanied by Freeman. It is alleged that Erickson and Freeman appeared to have been observing the meeting between Jack, John and King.
Police Officers, who suspected that a drug transaction had taken place, decided to intercept the vehicles and attempted to stop the Kia jeep as it travelled across the car park. The jeep then accelerated and attempted to outrun the Police in the car park. Other Police vehicles attended the scene and the Kia jeep was stopped after colliding with an unmarked Police vehicle.
Officers then searched the Kia jeep where they found a hold-all bag which contained some $178,060; and John's Rav4 was searched where $80,000 was retrieved.
Erickson, after observing that the two vehicles were intercepted, sped away; however, officers contacted their counterparts at the different locations and Erickson was intercepted in the Frenchman's Cay area. Freeman was still with Erickson and $37,040 cash was recovered from the jeep.
A search warrant was then obtained for John's residence and John told Police that he had large amount of money at his home.
During the search, where John was present, Police found $391,780 in a cardboard box in the clothes closet. It is alleged that John admitted to Police that the monies were the product of selling drugs.
Upon further search, Police found two large canvas bags with a cardboard box on top of them and inside there were 10 kilo blocks of cocaine and the box was marked with the number 10 in red marker pen. The two large canvas bags were opened and they contained 30 kilo blocks of cocaine in each bag with the number 30 written in a dark marker pen on the top of each bag. Four more boxes were found, bringing the total to 114 kilos of cocaine.
It is alleged that John told Police that he recently received a load of 147 kilos of cocaine at Beef Island dock. He said that he was contacted by a Colombian that he doesn't know. It is also alleged that he told Police that he already sold 36 kilos of cocaine and the monies found at the residence was from the cocaine he sold.
It is further alleged that he told Police he sold the kilos of cocaine at $11,000 per kilo.
Prosecution is contending that John told Police that the 70 kilos of cocaine which were found together were to be sold to Erickson, Freeman, Jack and King. John stated that the cocaine was to be distributed to them; however, the meeting which Police interrupted was to confirm whether they had the money to back their word.
Meanwhile, also found at John's residence was a $508.00 receipt for gas on August 6 for boat fuel purchased at Bobby's Marine, St. Maarten. It is alleged that John told Police that the Colombians who delivered the drugs to him on the Monday had given him the receipt.
Additionally, a roll of black packing tape, similar to that on the marked boxes was found in the laundry room and a red marker was found in the lounge area.
Police are alleging that there are other drugs outstanding that they have not yet recovered and investigations are continuing.