Thu | Jun 20, 2024

‘It’s not a five-star suite’

Dutch national on multimillion-dollar cocaine charges to get medical treatment

Published:Tuesday | June 11, 2024 | 12:09 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Patrick Crawford, the Dutch national who reportedly tried to smuggle $28.3 million worth of cocaine through Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport on May 9, seems to have got a rude awakening in the Jamaican jailhouse where he is being held in police custody.

Crawford, who is charged with possession of, dealing in, and attempting to export 13.5 pounds of cocaine, complained about the conditions in jail.

However, presiding parish judge Kaysha Grant-Pryce issued a stern admonition to Crawford when he voiced his frustration at Monday’s sitting of the St James Parish Court. The exchange happened while Crawford’s lawyer Henry McCurdy was seeking to secure medical attention for his client.

“He is suffering from a toothache and other ailments. I ask that he be taken to the doctor,” McCurdy said in speaking on Crawford’s behalf.

“They treat us like (expletive). The lady said she doesn’t care,” Crawford said abruptly in a thick accent, referencing the officer in charge of the cells where he is currently being held.

“They don’t want to clean the cell. I have to sit down in there,” he added in a frustrated tone, complaining that his attempts to ask the police to take him to the doctor had fallen on deaf ears.

“Sir, I don’t know what jails are like where you are from, but jailhouses here are not the Marriott or the Ritz-Carlton Hotel; they guarantee the basics and a meal. It’s not a five-star suite, we can’t guarantee that kind of thing, but we do as much as we can under the circumstances,” Grant-Pryce replied while ordering that Crawford be taken for medical treatment.

A 2022 report by the Police Civilian Oversight Authority indicated that lockups in the Area One Police Division, which includes St James, were at that time in dismal condition.

The report, which arose out of prisoner-in-custody inspections conducted in March that year at lockups in the Area One jurisdictions in St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, and Trelawny, included allegations of washbasins being used as toilets, showers being out of service, and prisoners’ belongings not being seen in custody.

STILL OUTSTANDING

In the meantime, during Monday’s court sitting, it was revealed that while the prosecution had made partial disclosure of its case-file to McCurdy, the forensic certificate was still outstanding.

Grant-Pryce subsequently set the matter for mention on June 24 and remanded Crawford until that date.

According to the allegations, on May 9, about 5 p.m., Crawford attempted to board a flight to Brussels, Belgium, at the Sangster International Airport.

While checking in to board the flight, Crawford was approached and spoken to by Narcotics personnel, following which his luggage was searched. The cocaine was then reportedly found in false compartments inside his luggage, and Crawford was arrested for breaching the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Crawford’s case is one of several recent cocaine-related matters to come before the St James Parish Court, which has had numerous similar high-profile cases on its docket over the years. In several of those cases, defendants have reportedly been involved in trafficking millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine, to the extent that concerns have been previously voiced about St James being a haven for drug trafficking.

Superintendent Dwight Daley, the head of the Narcotics Police, recently declared that the authorities have been keeping a close watch on Jamaica’s ports which are being used by international drug traffickers, as part of efforts to ensure the ports are not exploited for that purpose.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com