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Nov 4, 2016

Gary Seawell free, ending long-running extradition case

After languishing in prison for six years, Gary Sewell is finally a free man. He was apprehended back in February, 2010 but had been on the run since 2007 wanted by the US government for his purported role in the trafficking of drugs into the U.S.  Sewell was busted in an anti-drug operation at a farm near the village of Esperanza, in the Cayo District. He went on to beat firearm charges but in 2013, the Chief Magistrate ruled in favour of his extradition.  For years he fought that decision and today the Court of Appeal headed by President, Manuel Sosa along with Justices Samuel L. Awich and Murillo Ducille set him free. That decision came after Solicitor General Officer, Triennia Young, and Agassi Finnegan withdrew an application they had submitted to the court.  His attorneys also successfully argued that there was no committal warrant prepared for Sewell so he had been held illegally at the Belize Central Prison since 2013. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Having evaded the tentacles of justice for three years, prior to being caught with an arsenal of high-powered weapons in February 2010, thirty-nine-year-old Gary Sewell was wanted for his role in an international drug trafficking operation.  Along with siblings Mark and Duane, he has been fighting extradition to the United States.  Today, Gary is the most fortunate of the trio, as he was able to walk out of the Court of Appeal a free man.  His brothers haven’t fared off as well.  Duane is serving a lengthy sentence in a U.S prison and Mark is still awaiting his fate.  The feeling of having defeated a request to face charges abroad, for Gary, is both satisfying and humbling.

 

Gary Sewell, Released from Prison

Gary Sewell

“It’s pleasant, you know, I’m looking forward to getting home to my kids, that’s what I’m pretty anxious to go do at this moment, you know.  But I’m staying to give you a little slight interview, you know.  I’m pretty pleased about everything and how everything went, you know.  I give thanks because it’s been a long while.  It’s been a burdensome situation, you know, I’ve been carrying it for as long as I’ve been carrying my locks, you know.  I’m pretty pleased.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Have you thought about any kind of legal recourse for being detained for this period of time?”

 

Gary Sewell

“Actually, I haven’t been thinking about nothing but getting home to my children, honestly, you know.  Afterwards I could think of everything else.  I want to see the look on my children’s faces, right.  That’s what I’m anxious to do, to hold them outside of where I was at, you know, because I’m very close to my kids.  They’re my heart and my joy.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What was the outcome of the court matter earlier?”

 

Gary Sewell

“Well, upon the prosecution pulling back on an application that they had put in, that was a real effect on the whole case so the judges withdrew the, you know, they granted me my appeal upon that, you know, because that was the whole basis of the case.  Without that the whole case fell apart, you know.”

 

The sensational capture of the remaining Sewell brother is one for the books.  After years on the lam he was busted by San Ignacio Police near the outskirts of Esperanza village, holed up inside a farmhouse with a cache of firearms.  Those weapons included a stolen M4 Carbine, an assault rifle which was believed to have been taken from the BDF armory at Price Barracks.  In charge of the San Ignacio Police Station at the time was Superintendent Paul Wade.

 

Supt. Paul Wade

File: February 9th, 2010, Supt. Paul Wade

“At around ten fifteen a.m., this morning, San Ignacio Police were conducting the anti-crime operation about three and a half miles off the outskirts of Esperanza Village.  During that operation, police executed a search on a farmhouse that was located in that vicinity.  At the time, the house was occupied by Gary Gordon Sewell, thirty-three-years, entrepreneur of Ladyville, along with his common-law wife Tanisha Ayuso of Belize City.  During the search of the residence, police located four assault rifles, one hand grenade and assorted amount of ammunition, a bullet proof vest and three hundred and sixteen point one grams of marijuana.”

 

The request for the handing over of the Sewell three dates back to October 2006, when law enforcement captured Duane in Jamaica and extradited him via extraordinary rendition to the United States.  Mark was subsequently nabbed at his residence in Belama, while Gary absconded along with his common-law wife.  His capture resulted in a protracted legal battle that culminated today at the appellate level, several defense attorneys later.

 

Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper, Attorney for Gary Sewell

“The good news is that the Court of Appeal granted the writ for habeas corpus today.  That is what we were here for.  That was the basis of the appeal and so I just want to pay tribute to the quality of the Belize justice that we have the outcome that we had today.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Talk to us about some of the arguments that were put forward in court that resulted in Mr. Sewell’s release.”

 

Ben Cooper

“The basic argument was that there was no jurisdiction for Sewell to be detained at the prison here in Belize and there was no lawful order justifying the deprivation of his liberty.”

Isani Cayetano

“How long has he been incarcerated and do you guys as his legal counsel consider any form of recourse on his part for being incarcerated this long?”

 

Ben Cooper

“Yes.  So he was arrested in February 2010 and he’s been incarcerated since then.  There’s definitely an issue with the unconstitutionality of his detention throughout much of that period.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Any word from you Mr. Sylvester?”

 

Anthony Sylvester

Anthony Sylvester

“I’d just like to echo the words of Ben.  Today, you know, is an extremely wonderful day for the justice system in Belize.  You know, we’ve been working together on this matter, Ben in the UK and I here in Belize, for almost two years and in putting the case together we realized that we did have a very strong case and we were confident.  As any attorney would tell you, when you enter the court there are always jitterbugs because you are not sure what will be the outcome.  But we’re extremely grateful for the outcome that took place this morning and extremely grateful that Mr. Sewell will now be able to go home and to see his children who have not had him around for the past six years.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

 

Gary Sewell is at least tonight safe and sound with his family.

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1 Response for “Gary Seawell free, ending long-running extradition case”

  1. Mike G. says:

    And another criminal walks from our court system. The man is a criminal! How screwed up is this?

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