ALMOST 18 years after he was arrested for trafficking approximately $3.4 million worth in cocaine found in orange juice tins, a Diego Martin man has gone on trial on two counts of drug trafficking.
The prosecution yesterday opened its case against Stephen Gocking, who is alleged to have been in possession, for the purpose of trafficking, a total of 206 orange juice tins which all contained a quantity of cocaine mixed with acetone.
According to the prosecution’s case, August 14, 2001, Gocking was held by police executing a search warrant with 45 orange juice tins containing the cocaine, and a solid block of cocaine, in the kitchen of a property on Franklyn Road off Union Road, Four Roads, Diego Martin. When weighed, it weighed 25 kilogrammes.
It is further alleged that Gocking was in possession of 161 orange juice tins, which also contained cocaine and acetone, weighing 89 kilogrammes, allegedly found in the trunk of his wife’s SUV which he was using at that time.
The tins of Trinidad Juices orange juice were contained in cardboard boxes and the nine boxes as well as the block of cocaine and two metal tin sealers were tendered into evidence by Cpl Michael Charles, of the Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit (OCNU), who was one of the policemen who arrested Gocking.
In his testimony, Charles said he and other officers executed a search warrant at 2 Franklyn Road at about 8.30 pm. When they got to the house, a black SUV – PBA 274 – was in the yard and Gocking, who came to the front door, told him the vehicle was his wife’s and he used it to transport goods to his business place.
Charles said he looked in the SUV and saw several cardboard boxes in the trunk as well as cases of soft drinks. A woman was in the house and she was identified as a friend of Gocking who was visiting. Charles said on searching the house there were several bottles of alcohol, including Johnnie Walker Gold, Asti Spumante, and Dom Perignon in one area of the house. In the bedroom, there were several empty metal cans without covers, glue, labels, can covers, Trinidad Juice labels and two metal objects Gocking allegedly told him was used to seal the covers onto the cans.
In the kitchen, Charles said in a cupboard he found two cardboard boxes, containing juice tins and he opened three of them with a knife. When he examined the contents, he said there was a liquid, which smelled like nail polish remover, and cocaine in the tins. At this time, Charles said he noticed Gocking sweating profusely and asked for a drink of water. The woman was brought into the room, and Gocking allegedly told police she knew nothing about it and to leave her out of it.
Charles said he opened the remaining cans and they all contained the liquid and cocaine. He continued his search and found, in the cupboard where the boxes of cans were, a block of cocaine. Gocking, meanwhile, according to the officer, allegedly shook his head, inhaled, sighed and asked for his asthma medicine. Police also found 13 plastic bottles of acetone.
The police then went to the SUV where seven cardboard boxes with juice tins were allegedly discovered. Charles said he randomly opened a few tins and they all had the same contents as those found inside the house.
Gocking, he said, dropped himself on the ground and urinated on himself. The seven boxes contained 161 cans while the two boxes found in the kitchen contained 45 cans in all. During his testimony, Charles said exactly how many tins were found in each box and showed each of the boxes as well as the contents of some of the tins to the jury. There was no liquid in the tins, and the cocaine was a solid and brownish in colour. It held the shape of the bottom of the tin. The block of cocaine, which was wrapped in transparent plastic, was also shown to the jury, however, there was a small hole in the bag , resulting in some of the drugs spilling out onto the bar table where it was placed for easy viewing by the jury.
The next day, the police searched the apartment Gocking shared with his wife at Powder Magazine 1, Cocorite, but they found nothing illegal, and the woman allegedly admitted she was the owner of the SUV and she had given it to her husband the day before. She said did not know about the juice tins or cases of soft drink found in the vehicle.
Also during his testimony, Charles mentioned the four trips the opened tins and cardboard boxes made: on August 14, when the items were taken to the Woodbrook Police Station where all the tins were eventually opened and examined, to the Port of Spain Magistrates Court the next day when Gocking was charged, and back to the police station after court, and then again to the Forensic Science Centre, two days later where it was taken for examination.
When Charles returns today he will be cross-examined by Gocking’s attorney Larry Williams. Shaun Morris is also defending Gocking while Joy Balkaran and Shabanna Shah are prosecuting. Justice Maria Wilson is presiding over the trial in the Port of Spain Second Criminal Court.