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Nov 13, 2013

8 men arraigned for containers carrying a precursor to crystal meth

The eight men who were detained in connection with ten plastic drums found in a container in Bullet Tree have all been formally arraigned. The men had been in custody since early Monday morning and were taken to San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court today. Victor Constanza, Oscar Castillo, Alexis Arana, Patrick smith, David Hernandez, Ricardo Garcia, Antonio Ovando and Elmer Williams were all charged with Customs offences, since the container is believed to have entered the country illegally. Garcia, Ovando and Williams were additionally charged by Police for possession of a controlled substance. On Tuesday News Five was informed that testing had been done on two of the drums – one allegedly contained hydrochloric acid, while the other contained ammonium hydroxide. Both those chemicals are used in the manufacture of the drug methamphetamine. Dickie Bradley is the attorney for Elmer Williams, charged with possession of a controlled substance.


Dickie Bradley, Attorney for Elmer Williams

Dickie Bradley

“The prosecutor did apply to Magistrate Morgan for bail on the grounds that more time was needed to test the substance that was found in the barrels. Bernard Quinton Augustus Pitts appeared for most of the defendants in the customs matter and about two of the defendants in the drugs allegation and I represented Mister Williams who has been charged for customs as well as the misuse of drugs. However, we did make applications to the magistrate pointing out that this does not fall within the crime control act. It is unfair to ask a court to lock people up; deprive them of their freedom…that there is a need for further testing when no indication has been given to the court to how long it will take to do that testing; if in truth there is a need for further testing. In listening to all the arguments, the magistrate was satisfied and she is a very strict magistrate—in fact, I would not have been surprised if she had denied bail—but the arguments were strong. These men have been in custody from late Sunday night, were told they would be charged early Monday morning. So that in fact the substance had been at the government lab from at least Monday or whenever the police made it available, and we have information that in fact those tests are inconclusive as to what is the substance in the drums. There is a possibility that further testing, if it is undertaken, could show otherwise, but in fact so far today, Wednesday the thirteenth, there is no test to say that they are in possession of anything.”

 

All eight men were granted bail. Antonio Ovando, however, was taken to the Belize Central Prison because he owes the Court sixty-three thousand dollars for Customs-related offences. Victor Costanza and Oscar Castillo met bail and were free to go, while Alexis Arana, Patrick Smith, David Hernandez, Ricardo Garcia and Elmer Williams could not meet bail and were remanded.

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