Court approves seizure of assets of convicted drug kingpin Deedo
The Asset Recovery Agency, an arm of the Financial Investigations Division (FID), has won its long-running battle with convicted drug kingpin Norris 'Deedo' Nembhard over nearly $200 million in assets and properties that it had wanted to seize.
Among the assets that are to be seized by the FID are a great house in St Ann, a Mercedes-Benz motor car and 10 other motor vehicles, including a number of tractor trucks and trailers.
"The great house in St Ann, that one is extraordinary," a senior law-enforcement official told The Gleaner in 2015, making reference to the value of the property.
Attorneys representing Nembhard had gone to court seeking to have it set aside a default judgment that was entered against him in August 2016.
The default judgment arose from a civil recovery claim brought by the FID in 2011, in which it sought to confiscate several real-estate properties and motor vehicles which were alleged to have been purchased from the proceeds of Nembhard's drug trafficking.
Nembhard had been arrested in 2004 and extradited to the United States to face an indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of ganja, knowing and intending it to be unlawfully imported into the US.
He subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2009 to 156 months' (13 years') imprisonment. He was released and deported in 2015.
After approximately five years, Nembhard failed to file a defence to the civil recovery claim and default judgment was entered against him by the Supreme Court.
An application was then filed by Nembhard to set aside the default judgment that had been entered.
FIVE-YEAR DELAY EXCEPTIONAL
But the Supreme Court ruled that the five-year delay was exceptional and that Nembhard had provided no evidence to account for this delay.
The court further found that Nembhard did not show that he had a real prospect of successfully defending the claim.
Nembhard was one of several Jamaicans designated as drug kingpins by then US President George Bush in 2004.
He subsequently pleaded guilty to narcotics charges along with compatriots Robroy Williams, Glenford Williams, Herbert Henry, and Vivian Daley.
Court documents, including the plea agreements signed by the five Jamaicans and their Colombian co-accused Luis Miguel Avila Arias, indicated that the group used Jamaican waters as a trans-shipment point for cocaine moving from Colombia to the US.
The documents, which were cited in a statement released by then US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Robert O'Neil, indicated that Robroy Williams and Nembhard received "loads of cocaine transported via go-fast vessels from Colombia, ranging from 600-1,200 kilograms.
"The loads of cocaine were received by Williams and others ... at various beach locations in Jamaica and stored at rural stash house locations for later distribution in Jamaica and eventually in the United States," the statement said.