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5 Jamaicans face court on drug charges

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2012    

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FIVE Jamaican men who were reportedly held on a boat in a United States territory with almost 7,000 pounds of compressed ganja were recently offered $800,000 bail each when they appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court.

They are due back in court today.

The accused men are Herman Goldson, 64, of Port Royal in Kingston; Radcliff Simmons, 39, fisherman of Jones Town in Kingston; Leaford Kidd, 59, marine engineer of Port Maria in St Mary; Taluka Lyttle, 32, marine engineer a of Spanish Town Road address in Kingston; and Joslyn Foster, chef of Cooreville Gardens in Kingston.

They were among seven men who were arrested on October 10 by US coast guards about 250 miles south of Haiti but were handed over to the local police who charged them with possession of, dealing in, trafficking and conspiracy to export ganja.

The court was told that a US Coast Guard vessel was carrying out a routine patrol on the Caribbean Sea when a vessel was spotted with seven men aboard. The US guards reportedly went on the vessel and found the five Jamaicans along with a Trinidadian and a Guyanese man aboard.

The boat was searched and 6,900 pounds of the drug was reportedly found in a secret compartment in the lower section of the vessel.

The Jamaicans were handed over to the local authority, along with a sample of the drug weighing 41 pounds, as well as the vessel, while the other two men were held by the US coast guards for prosecution in the US.

When the matter was raised, attorney-at-law Xavia Mayne, who is representing all the accused, raised concern about the legality of his clients being prosecuted in Jamaica when the alleged crime was committed in another jurisdiction. In addition, Mayne also pointed out that the exhibition was in another jurisdiction.

However, as it relates to his clients, the lawyer told the court that his clients, who are part of the ship's crew, were on their way to Guyana to carry out repairs to the vessel and to collect 60,000 pounds of fish when the boat ran out of fuel and drifted off into US waters.

Mayne said that his clients had no knowledge that the drug was on board.

The men were subsequently offered bail by magistrate Lorna Shelly Williams on conditions that they report three days per week at the nearest police station to their home in their respective community and surrender their travel documents with a stop order in place.

The matter was then set for today when an officer from the Office of the Director of Public prosecution is to attend court to make special application.

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