Ex-FBI agent testifies in 2013 drug-running, money-laundering case
THE LONG-RUNNING trial of four businessmen who were arrested in 2013 for allegedly being involved in a drug-smuggling and money-laundering scheme between Jamaica and the United States will continue on September 29. This follows prosecution testimony from a now-retired Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] agent last Friday.
Montego Bay residents Robert Dunbar, Delroy Gayle and Louis Smith, and United States citizen Melford Daley got the new court date and had their bails extended following the completion of the witness’ evidence-in-chief, which had started the day before, and cross-examination by defence attorneys Oswest Senior-Smith and Hugh Wildman.
During Friday’s sitting before presiding trial Judge Sandria Wong-Small, the witness told the court that certain documents which had been seized and placed into evidence as part of the case against the four defendants had a number of names on them, including that of Louis Smith.
But during cross-examination, attorney Senior-Smith questioned how the witness had handled the documents at the time of their seizure.
“When you first looked at these documents that you seized, were these documents in any particular order?” Senior-Smith asked.
“Yes,” the witness replied.
“You’ll agree with me that from what you observed of them being in order, that allows for some level of coherence?” Senior-Smith queried.
“Each document stands on its own, but some tie into each other,” the witness answered, adding that his training as an FBI agent allowed him to maintain proper custody of the documents.
Meanwhile, Wildman questioned whether a number of ledgers which were seized in the United States were based on testimony from convicted drug trafficker Dean Drummond, who previously testified against the defendants via video link in 2019.
“Were the ledgers your compilation? Were the ledgers put together by yourself?” Wildman asked the witness.
“No, they were seized from Mr Drummond ... if you’re suggesting that I manufactured them, no, I did not. I intercepted conversations authorised by the court in the United States, of drug traffickers here in Jamaica; in other words, Mr Drummond was contacting Jamaica,” the witness countered.
When the case resumes on September 29, it is expected that additional evidence will be taken from an investigating officer who had previously given evidence-in-chief.
The allegations in the case 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.
The quartet’s trial had previously started in September 2019 before Judge Wong-Small, the parish judge for St James at the time. At that time, attorney Wildman made an application for the matter to be thrown out because the defendants were arrested and charged in 2013 under the Money Laundering Act, which was repealed in 2007 and replaced with the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The Supreme Court granted a stay of the trial on September 19, 2019, which came into effect later that month after Drummond, a key prosecution witness currently serving a 27-year prison sentence in the United States for drug smuggling, gave evidence against the four defendants.
During that testimony, Drummond told the St James Parish Court that he had worked in a cocaine-trafficking operation with Dunbar and Gayle.
In February 2020, the Supreme Court’s 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 paved the way for the resumption of the trial proceedings in the St James Parish Court.
On October 26, 2020, the men had their trial set to run from February 22 to March 5, 2021. However, the trial did not resume at that time, with their next court appearance taking place on March 24 this year. The trial resumed most recently on Monday, September 11.