Soldiers remanded on ganja charges

Regional

Soldiers remanded on ganja charges

BY KASEY WILLIAMS
Observer staff reporter
kaseyw@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Two Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers charged earlier this month with illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, shooting with intent, possession of and dealing in ganja, and taking steps preparatory to export ganja were remanded when they made their first court appearance here yesterday.

The soldiers, 38-year-old Robert Smith and 39-year-old Roan Mendez, are to reappear in the St Elizabeth Parish Court on November 23.

They were arrested following a joint police/military operation during which the police said they seized $6 million worth of ganja on October 13 in Gutters, St Elizabeth.

Queen's Counsel Peter Champagnie, who represents Smith, told journalists that a bail application for both men will continue.

“The bail application commenced this morning (yesterday) and the case file is quite voluminous. A number of statements are outstanding. I think quite rightly the learned parish judge took the view that there were some critical bites of information by way of statements that are outstanding and, as a result of that, the bail application will continue on November 23,” he said.

Attorney Samoi Campbell is representing Mendez.

The media was barred from yesterday's court hearing as it was done in-camera.

Police report that about 9:30 pm on October 13, a team comprising members of the Narcotics Division and the Westmoreland Division, assisted by members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), attempted to intercept a minivan in Gutters. However, the occupants of the vehicle reportedly fired at the team and discarded packages as they attempted to flee.

The vehicle was eventually intercepted and two men — who were later confirmed to be members of the JDF — were arrested. The ganja and the vehicle the men were travelling in were seized. The vehicle is the property of the JDF.


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