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New date for MoBay men charged with drug smuggling and money laundering

Published:Saturday | March 25, 2023 | 12:45 AMChristopher Thomas /Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

The long-running trial of the four businessmen who are accused of being major players in an international drug-smuggling and money-laundering scheme between Jamaica and the United States, were given a new court date when they appeared in the St James Parish Court yesterday.

The men, Robert Dunbar, Delroy Gayle, and Louis Smith, along with United States citizen Melford Daley, were given the new court date of May 12, 2023, and had their bails extended by presiding Parish Judge Sasha-Marie Ashley.

During the brief hearing, the court was told that attorney-at-law Martyn Thomas, one member of the team of attorneys for the four men, was absent as he was attending to another court matter in Kingston.

No explanation was given for the absences of attorneys Hugh Wildman, Tom Tavares-Finson, and Oswest Senior-Smith, who are also members of the defence team.

“Gentlemen, there are two challenges today, as Mr Thomas cannot be here today and the trial judge cannot be here today either. The matter is set for May 12, and your bails are extended,” Judge Ashley told the defendants.

The trial had previously started before Parish Court Judge Sandria Wong-Small in September 2019, when 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. That act was repealed in 2007 and replaced with the Proceeds of Crime Act.

KEY WITNESS’ TESTIMONY

The Supreme Court granted a stay of the trial on September 19, 2019, which came into effect later that month after Christopher Drummond, a key prosecution witness who is currently serving a 27-year prison sentence in the United States for drug smuggling, gave evidence against the four defendants.

During Drummond’s testimony, which was done via video link, he 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 initiation 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.

The allegations 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.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com