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Thursday 14 December 2017
Crime and Court

4 on ‘coke’ charge

Four men were each granted $100,000 bail by an Arima Magistrate before whom they appeared on charges of conspiring to traffic $18.4 million in cocaine into New York.

Ricardo Bennet, 53, of Five Rivers, Arouca; Stephan Francois, 35, of Tacarigua, a baggage handler with 15 years service with Swissport; Sean Carter, 31, a security guard with Intercept Security Services and Swissport customer service representative Yakini Bowen, 27, of La Horquetta appeared before Senior Magistrate Gillian David-Scotland on Monday.

The four were remanded overnight since their criminal record tracing was not yet available to the court. When the four returned to court yesterday, the prosecution did not object to bail being granted since there was no criminal record for any of the accused men. In granting bail to be approved by a Clerk of the Peace, Magistrate Gillian David-Scotland also ordered that the four surrender their passports to the court.

They were charged with conspiring to traffic 40 kilos of cocaine valued $18.4 million into the United States. Bennett and Francois were represented by attorney Fareed Ali while Carter was represented by Ravi Rajcoomar and Bowen by Candice Wilson.

The men were charged by Sgt Russell of the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Unit (OCNFU). They were arrested on Friday last.

According to reports, the cocaine was intercepted at the JFK International Airport in New York and checks revealed it originated from a flight which left Piarco International Airport.

The arrest came after ten months of surveillance by both the US and local police. It is likely extradition proceedings may commence to have the men answer similar charges in the US.

The four are to return to the Arima Magistrates Court on November 9.

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