A woman who attempted to export $1.7 million in cocaine to Nigeria, via the Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TTPOST) about two-and-a-half years ago, was yesterday jailed for a total of four-and-a-half years by a magistrate in San Fernando. She will, however only serve a year and a half as she has been in custody since her arrest.
Melinda Raquel Wiltshire, 45, of Pierre Lane, Lendore Village, Chaguanas, had been at the Women’s Prison since her arrest at the Coffee Street office of TTPOST in March 2015, unable to secure the $2.5 million bail granted to her.
She pleaded guilty yesterday before Magistrate Alicia Chankar after Senior State Attorney (Customs & Excise) Harricharan Cassie advised the court that the matter should be heard summarily.
Customs officers brought the cocaine into the courtroom, 1.5 kilogrammes of which was in an auto spare part.
Harricharan told Chankar that on February 20, 2015, Wiltshire went to TTPOST’s Coffee Street outlet and posted an auto part to Nigeria in the name of Melissa Ali, of Nelson Street, Freeport. It was marked “Toyota Genuine Part”. On March 16, she went to TTPOST and posted four wall plaques, which contained cocaine, in Ali’s name bound for Nigeria. Three days later, she again went to TTPOST and attempted to post a yellow plastic bag which contained cocaine.
Harricharan said Customs officers at Piarco, while examining the first and second packages, found there was a white powdery substance in them. The Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit (OCNU) was notified.
They observed a small hole in the disc of the spare part. They found the substance lodged in the hole. There was also the same substance in pieces of newspapers wrapped around the four plaques. The substance was examined and determined to be cocaine.
On March 19, 2015, OCNU and Customs members staked out at TTPOST and saw when Wiltshire entered, Cassie said. They kept her under observation and when she attempted to post a yellow bag after filling out the prescribed TTPOST declaration form, they arrested her.
When Wiltshire first appeared in court, she was granted $2.2 million bail with a surety, but she could not secure it and remained in custody.