Sunday 19 November, 2017

Drug-trafficking accused may be extradited to US

Four men who were charged with drug trafficking may be extradicted to the US to answer the charges before a federal court. 

The men, identified as Ricardo Bennet, 53, Stephan Francois, 35, Sean Carter, 31, and Yakini Bowen, 27, were granted bail at a cumulative total of $400,000 after appearing before an Arima Magistrate on drug trafficking charges.

They were all charged in relation to the discovery of 40 kilogrammes of cocaine at the JFK International Airport in New York last November.

The drugs allegedly had a street value of over TT$18 million.

They were all charged by Sgt Russel of the Organized Crime and Narcotics Bureau.

Bennet and Francois were represented by defence attorney Fareed Ali, Carter was represented by attorney Ravi Rajkumar, and Bowen was represented by attorney Candice Wilson. 

The four men appeared before Senior Magistrate Gillian David Scotland on Tuesday morning.

Bail was granted after the senior magistrate had an opportunity to review the background tracings on each of the accused.

As part of the bail conditions, it was ordered that the accused surrender their passports to the clerk of the peace as an assurance that they will not flee the jurisdiction.

The matter was then adjourned to November 9.

The charges were laid after all four accused were in police custody for three days, having been arrested on September 8.

It was alleged that the men conspired to export into the US on November 8, 2016, 40 kilogrammes of cocaine.

The drugs were found at the JFK International Airport by US officials, and after an inquiry was conducted, it was discovered to have originated from the Piarco International Airport in Trinidad.

Surveillance of the men charged was carried for 10 months by the Federal Government in collaboration with OCNB before the four accused were arrested and charged. 

Given that the allegations have taken place in another district, it is likely that Extradition Proceedings may be initiated to have all four men taken to the US to the charges before a Federal Court.