Wed | Nov 25, 2020

February date for accused MoBay drug smugglers

Published:Tuesday | October 27, 2020 | 12:19 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

The trial of four Montego Bay businessmen who are accused of being major players in a drug-smuggling and money-laundering ring between Jamaica and the United States was set for continuation in February 2021 when the men appeared in the St James Parish Court yesterday.

The men, Robert Dunbar, Delroy Gayle, and Louis Smith, all of Montego Bay addresses, and United States citizen Melford Daley, were given the February 22, 2021, date and had their bail extended by presiding parish judge Sandria Wong-Small. The lawyers representing the men were not present for the hearing.

The four men are being represented by a strong legal team, which includes attorney Hugh Wildman, who is representing Smith; attorney Tom Tavares Finson, who is representing Daley; and attorney Oswest Senior-Smith, who is representing Dunbar.

Once the trial starts on schedule next year, it is expected to run from February 22 to March 5.

A STAY OF TRIAL

On September 19, 2019, the Supreme Court granted a stay of the trial following an application by attorney Wildman, which asked for the case to be thrown out because the men were arrested and charged under the Money Laundering Act in 2013. That act was repealed in 2007 and replaced with the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The Supreme Court’s order came into effect after Christopher Drummond, a key prosecution witness who is now serving a 27-year prison sentence in the United States for drug smuggling, gave evidence against the four defendants by way of video link. During his testimony, Drummond told the St James Parish Court that he had worked in a cocaine-trafficking operation with Dunbar and Gayle.

In February of this year, the Supreme Court, via presiding High Court Justice Simone Wolfe-Reece, rejected an application made on Smith’s behalf by Wildman in which the defendant sought a declaration from the court that the initiating of criminal proceedings against him was null, void, and of no effect. That decision by the judge paved the way for the resumption of the trial proceedings in the St James Parish Court.

The allegations against the men are that Gayle, Dunbar, Smith, and Daley were involved in drug trafficking between Jamaica and the United States between 1999 and 2005. The men were arrested during a major police operation carried out by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency in 2013.