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US Customs officers nab passenger with cocaine on flight from Trinidad and Tobago

US Customs officers nab passenger with cocaine on flight from Trinidad and Tobago

NEW YORK, Jul 27,   CMC –  The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says officers have arrested a woman who was found with cocaine her luggage when she arrived at the John F. Kennedy airport on a flight from Trinidad and Tobago earlier this week.

According to the CBP, on Monday, officers stopped Diamonaire Smith, a United States citizen and during the baggage inspection officers noticed that the sides of the suitcase felt “unusually thick.”

“The CBP officers, thereafter, probed the suitcase, which revealed a white powdery substance. The white powdery substance field-tested positive for cocaine.”

Smith was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to the US Homeland Security Investigations for investigation. 

The total weight of cocaine seized was about five pounds, with an estimated street value of US$85,000.

Smith now faces US federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York. 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Court, Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Travel0 Comments

breaking-news-1

Aircraft crash victim dies

 

The individual rescued from the aircraft that crashed in the sea at the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island has died.

The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force made the pronouncement minutes before 6 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, July 18.

Police said an investigation has been launched into the fatal accident.

The name of the victim has not been released.

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A small aircraft reportedly has crash-landed in a body of water at the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.

Local emergency services personnel reportedly are responding at the scene.

Police told BVI News the aircraft ‘overran the runway’ at the airport and ended in the sea.

“One person was rescued from the aircraft,” police said.

Amateur video footage sent to BVI News shows one resident performing what appears to be cardiopulmonary resuscitation – more commonly known as CPR – on a male who is believed to be the crash victim.

The full circumstances of the incident are not clear but BVI News will provide further information as it becomes available.

The BVI Airports Authority has released the following statement on the incident:

A C150 with one person on board departed the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (TUPJ) at 20:17Z (4:17pm) destined to Pointe a Pitre International Airport (TFFR) in Guadeloupe when it crashed into the waters off the east north east end of Runway 07.

BVI Airport Authority’s Rescue and Fire Fighting Service moved swiftly into action and was able to quickly secure the pilot, the only occupant of the aircraft.

The Airport is currently closed to facilitate the rescue effort.

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Antigua shows strongest air arrivals in 15 years

Antigua shows strongest air arrivals in 15 years

ST. JOHN’S, Jul. 18,  CMC – Antigua and Barbuda tourism officials say that for the first time in over 15 years, the country has seen the strongest overall visitor arrivals by air from January to June.

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) said it recorded 148,139 arrivals for that period with significant increases in the key source markets – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the Caribbean.

ABTA said this represents an overall seven per cent increase over 2017.

It said the closest the destination previously came to these figures was in 2008.

The authority said IJune demonstrated significant increases while Canada has the greatest year-over-year increase with over 170 per cent, followed by the US , the  Caribbean   and the United Kingdom .

In addition, ABTA said the destination is seeing an average 11.57 per cent increase in sea arrivals  and an average 8.6 per cent growth in occupancy rates.

This growth is set to continue with significant increased airlift from North America in the Fall 2018, the opening of the destination’s newest 5-star resort and spa, Hodges Bay, in October 2018, as well as a full cruise schedule.

“We are excited by this positive momentum in growth of arrivals, both by cruise and air,” said Minister of Tourism, Economic Development and Investment, Charles “Max” Fernandez.

“It is incredibly encouraging for the tourism industry, and I would like to congratulate the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, the private sector, stakeholders and all our tourism partners in helping us to reach these positive results for the first six months of the year,” he added.

“We will not rest on our laurels, and are striving for better,” Fernandez continued. “We will continue to invest in infrastructure and service and raise awareness of Antigua and Barbuda to ensure we see consistent growth in arrivals.”

ABTA chief executive officer, Colin C. James, said the first half of 2018 has shown “incredible improvement, especially in our key source markets.

“We look forward to relentlessly working towards attracting new and returning visitors, improving our on-island tourism products, as well as increasing access through our award-winning airport and port,” he said.

“We are doubling our airlift out of Miami, introducing new direct service out of New York and Canada, and welcoming new cruise ships to an already busy schedule,” he added.

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Measures being implemented to fast-track full implementation of CSME

Measures being implemented to fast-track full implementation of CSME

KINGSTON, Jamaica, July 10, CMC – Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have put measures in place to fast-track the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Among the strategies is a special meeting of CARICOM Heads to focus solely on the CSME, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago in November.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right)

CARICOM Chairman, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, added that the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CSME will now have quarterly meetings beginning in September in Barbados, which will be hosted by Prime Minister Mia Mottley “to give urgency to the implementation process”.

He further noted that Government leaders also put greater focus on advancing those areas that would help to create enabling support measures for a competitive Single Market.

These include an investment policy and investment code, an incentive regime, an integrated capital market and securities legislation.

“As leaders, we expect that these matters will be ready for full adoption at the 40th meeting of [CARICOM Heads of Government] in July 2019.These mechanisms will enable strong support measures for a successful CSME,” Holness said.

He also stressed the Heads’ recommitment to making the mechanisms within CARICOM work, by taking decisive action.

“I am resolved as the Chair to ensure that we take action. We must get things done to make a difference. We are resolved to now begin to implement the decisions we take to improve the perceptions, especially amongst our youth,” he said.

The CSME is an integrated development strategy that is intended to benefit the people of the region by providing more and better opportunities to produce and sell goods and services and to attract investments.

It is built on five core regimes – free movement of capital, free movement of goods, free movement of skills, the provision of services, and the right of establishment. In addition, the CSME facilitates hassle-free travel for all CARICOM nationals.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Featured, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Travel, Youth0 Comments

Holness signs CARICOM agreements

Holness signs CARICOM agreements

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Jul. 7, CMC – Chairman of the Caribbean Community(CARICOM), Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on Friday signed three agreements pertaining to matters of the regional body.

The signing took place during the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM that ended here on Friday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and CARICOM
Secretary General Irwin LaRocque

One agreement relates to the CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty, which seeks to establish a system of arrest and surrender of requested persons within the Community for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution for an applicable offence; or executing a custodial sentence where the requested persons have fled from justice after being sentenced for an applicable offence.

Another pertains to the Revised Agreement for the Establishment of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).

This seeks to update the CXC’s legal structure in light of subsequent organisational practices, recent market developments and current needs, with particular emphasis on accommodating requests from additional territories and institutions to join or otherwise participate in the CXC.

The other document is the Protocol amending the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to incorporate the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement as an organ of the community and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security as an institution of the community.

The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing CARICOM, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), was signed in 2001.

Among the objectives, are improved standard of living and work in member countries; accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development; and organisation for increased production and productivity.

The Conference of Heads of Government, which consists of the Heads of Government of the Member States, is the supreme organ of the CARICOM and determines and provides its policy direction.

Posted in CARICOM, Crime, Local, OECS, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Bitcoin ATM Not Authorised by Regulators in ECCU

Bitcoin ATM Not Authorised by Regulators in ECCU

An Advisor from Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) reveals that, “It has come to the attention of the ECCB and the Financial Services Regulatory Commission of St Kitts and Nevis (FSRC) that a Bitcoin ATM has been installed at a location in the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis.  It is also our understanding that there are plans for the installation of similar machines in other locations in the Federation.”

A Caution

“The public is hereby cautioned that the operation of Bitcoin ATMs or any other sort of cryptocurrency operations is not currently regulated by the ECCB, the FSRC St Kitts and Nevis or by any regulatory authority in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). In addition, bitcoin or any issuer of bitcoin has not been designated under the Payment System Act in St Kitts and Nevis. This means that there are no existing regulations to specifically protect consumers from financial losses if an organisation that exchanges or holds virtual currencies fails or goes out of business.

“In other words, persons who choose to use these services or are contemplating use of these services ought to understand that they do so completely at their own risk. The extent of this risk, at this point in time, is not fully known given the novelty of the area and the absence of regulatory oversight.

 

The ECCB issued the advisory on 5 June, 2018 recognising developments in the FinTech space and encouraging consumers to be cautious in their use.  Indeed, the consuming public was asked to consider several questions when considering involvement. Click here for more: (https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/news/view/eccb-advisory-on-fintech-operations-in-the-eccu).

The ECCB and the FSRC recognise that financial innovation is essential, however the appropriate legal and regulatory framework is necessary to protect the integrity of the financial system and investors and consumers alike.

At this stage, the ECCB, as a regional regulator, is pressing ahead with its work to advise the Governments of the ECCU on an appropriate regional framework for FinTech regulation and supervision as well as a strategy to reduce the use of cash to help boost growth and competitiveness. To this end, the ECCB will be working with other national regulators within the ECCU to adopt a common approach.

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Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

By Ernie Seon

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jun. 19, CMC – The Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, has signaled her intention to deepen political and economic cooperation with the nine nation Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

In her first address outside of Barbados since assuming office, Mottley told representatives of the 65th Meeting of the OECS Authority which began its working session here Tuesday, that her administration wanted mutually beneficial solutions to critical issues such as climate change, freedom of movement and transportation challenges.

She told the gathering which included leaders of all nine member OECS states, with the exception of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of  Dominica who was expected later Tuesday, of the  need to resolve climate change issues, pointing to the influx of sargassum seaweed as an opportunity for economic benefit, rather than treating it as a problem that affects our coast and tourism industry.

“We have had to confront it as you do across the rest of the region, but we believe that our best efforts are when they are cooperative and to that extent our ability to harvest the sargassum weed collectively and maximize what ever economic benefits we can get from it rather than treat it as a nuisance that affects our coasts and tourism industry, is the way in which we would like to pursue discussions.”

She said that freedom of movement was another pressing concern, and finding a way forward for the regional airline LIAT.

She said from her country’s perspective, one of the troubling concerns was the inability of persons who were in-transit in Barbados for more than two hours, to clear immigration.

“It makes no sense, because it hurts the extent to which those who visit our shores are capable of contributing to our economic activity in our country.

“To that extent prior to traveling here, I have asked what are the legal obstacles preventing the movement of people who are in-transit within our air and sea ports, who are being precluded from leaving the ports, but I am yet to receive an answer that makes sense,” she told the leaders.

“If you are at a point of entry for 6 or 8 hours there is no reason to be treated as a prisoner of war within the precincts of our region,” Motley insisted.

On the issue of inter-island transportation the Barbados leader said she looks forward to engaging with the OECS leaders, ” and particularly fellow shareholders and soon to be other shareholders in the context of regional carrier, Liat.”

She however noted that she would do so, cognizant of the fact that modalities  that were relevant decades ago cannot continue to be relevant as countries enter the third decade of the 21st Century.

Motley suggested that a review of government structures was absolutely critical if the region is to ensure the viability of an airline that serves as the lifeblood of this region.

“Similarly it is time that we stopped just talking about inter-island ferry transportation and get on with establishing this vital service.

“I am aware that unless we get to the stage where we can facilitate the movement of not just people, but vehicles and cargo we will not reap the full benefit of the space we have the honour to occupy.”

She explained to facilitate such an undertaking when it comes there needed to be mutual recognition of insurance, licenses, and the equal ability for the region to see how far it is prepared to go for mutual recognition of domestic incorporation, “so as we don’t impose on citizens the additional cost and time of having to go through these exercises again, simply to facilitate free movement across the region.”

Meanwhile,  Mottley and the heads of Governments of the OECS were also meeting Tuesday  in caucus for dialogue on better ways of collaboration between Barbados and the OECS.

The agenda for the 65th Meeting includes critical areas related to climate change among them the problem of sargassum where the OECS hopes to initiate a regional approach.

“We are going to be discussing ways in which the member states can work effectively together to do clean-ups of the beaches and areas affected by sargassum but more importantly how do we turn this problem into an opportunity,” said OECS Director General Dr. Didicus Jules told journalists Monday.

He said building resilience in the Caribbean is also high on the agenda in terms of, not just infrastructure but economic, social and community resilience.

A presentation is expected by the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator Group which has been assisting the Caribbean in becoming the first climate smart region. During the OECS meeting, the work programme of the OECS will also be under review.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet will hand over to incoming chairman, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

The OECS is made up of seven full Member States, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts Nevis, St Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and three Associate Member States: the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Martinique, all of whom are expected to be represented at the summit.

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douglas-harriss

Date set for hearing diplomatic passport case against former prime minister

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Apr 20, 2018, CMC – A High Court judge Friday set May 30 for the start of the case in which the St. Kitts-Nevis government is seeking to oust former prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas from the Parliament on the grounds that he is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

Douglas has already called on the Court to dismiss the application noting that “in the affidavit that I have sworn, I have asked the court not only to dismiss the charges that have been brought by the Attorney General, but also with costs because they must pay for wasting the court’s time”.

The St Kitts-Nevis government, through the Attorney General, Vincent Byron, is seeking a declaration from the High Court that, since the election to the National Assembly on February 16, 2015, Douglas became disqualified from being elected as a member of the National Assembly and was accordingly required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is in accordance with the law of Dominica, under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely, Dominica.

douglas-harriss
Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris (left) and
Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas (File Photo)

Additionally, the government is also seeking a declaration that Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly; an injunction restraining him from taking his seat in the National Assembly and from performing his functions as a member as well as costs, and other relief as the court may deem just and expedient.

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has described the matter of one of grave constitutional, political and parliamentary significance to the Commonwealth.

When the matter came up for hearing on Friday, Justice Trevor Ward ruled that submissions should be made by May 11 with the matter to be heard on May 30.

Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, who is a member of Douglas defence team, said that his client had agreed to disclose the number of times that he had travelled on the diplomatic passport “because he said in his evidence he had in fact used the passport for convenience and travel….

“We insisted that we are not going to have the document disclosed in the High Court proceedings, we are not going to have it filed with the Registrar, we are not going to have it filed in the registry for copies to be made and a political pappyshow made out of the passport,” Astaphan said, describing as “absolutely deceitful, deception and fraudulent” a media report on the events that occurred in the Courts on Friday.

He told reporters that he had agreed with Trinidadian-based Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes  “that we would disclose in writing the number of times Dr. Douglas travelled , dates and so on and that after that is done we will submit the diplomatic passport to the judge for the judge to verify that the information that we are volunteering is accurate.

“Our initial position was that the Court had no jurisdiction to compel us to disclose anything and that is why the order before the judge was by consent ….and not mandatory or any order by the court imposed on us, ”he added.

Astaphan said that the media report “gives further support to us on Dr. Douglas side that this is all a piece of political manoeuvring to try score political points perhaps where things are not going the way the Honourable Prime Minister and his government would wish to go”.

Douglas has already indicated that the outcome of the Court matter will enable the main opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) “to settle down and pursue a spirited election campaign to remove the dictatorship from this land led by Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris”.

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ADDITIONAL FERRY SERVICE ANNOUNCED FOR POST ST. PATRICK’S FESTIVAL EXODUS

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As a courtesy to our readers and the many who enquired about the ferry service through this medium, we provide the following submitted to us ‘for information’…

The Access Division has made arrangements to ensure persons leaving Montserrat in the coming days make their international flight connections in Antigua.

On Monday March 19th, 2018, the MV Lovely 1, with a capacity of 350, will leave Montserrat at 7:00am. Passengers are advised to check in 2 and a half hours before departure to allow early boarding of the vessel. The MV Lovely 1 will depart Antigua at 3:00pm with passengers for Luciano’s show at Salem Park.

On Tuesday March 20, 2018, the MV Lovely 1 will depart Montserrat at 7:00am. Check in time is at 4:30am to facilitate the early departure of the vessel.

The MV Jaden Sun will be on standby in the morning and will take additional passengers to Antigua if necessary. The ferry is however, scheduled to depart Montserrat at 5:00pm; leaving Antigua at 7:30pm.

On Wednesday March 21, 2018, the MV Jayden Sun will depart Montserrat at 6:30am and arrive in Antigua at 8:00am. The MV Jayden Sun will then leave Antigua at 7:00pm and arrive in Montserrat at 8:30pm.

Two trips will be scheduled on Wednesday if necessary.

For more information please contact Mr. Roosevelt Jemmotte on 496-9912 or Crenston Buffonge on 392-8731.

 

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PHOTO: Lewis Bennett is pictured in an undated booking photo released by the Broward Sheriffs office in Florida.

Husband charged with murder in high seas honeymoon disappearance

 
 
PHOTO: Lewis Bennett is pictured in an undated booking photo released by the Broward Sheriffs office in Florida.
Lewis Bennett is pictured in an undated booking photo released by the Broward Sheriff’s office in Florida.
Broward Sheriff

A British man was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the disappearance of his newlywed wife last May, who he claimed fell from their catamaran during a belated honeymoon sailing trip to the Caribbean, authorities said today.

Lewis Bennett, 41, was arrested on Feb. 16 after an FBI investigation found evidence discrediting his story that his wife, Isabella Hellman, the mother of his 9-month-old daughter, vanished from their 40-foot vessel when it hit something in open international waters while he was asleep in the cabin below deck, according to a criminal complaint obtained by ABC News.

PHOTO: Lewis Bennett is pictured in an undated booking photo released by the Broward Sheriffs office in Florida.Broward Sheriff
Lewis Bennett is pictured in an undated booking photo released by the Broward Sheriff’s office in Florida

By examining photos and video the U.S. Coast Guard took of the catamaran before it sank, an expert hired by the FBI to help in the high-seas mystery determined Bennett’s story couldn’t be true.

“Based on the analysis it does not appear the vessel sinking was caused by accidental damage. Rather, it appears the vessel was intentionally scuttled,” an associate professor of nautical architecture and ocean engineering at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy stated in court records.

Bennett was arrested when he appeared in a Florida court on unrelated charges of transporting $5,000 of gold and silver coins, which he pleaded guilty to in November, according to the complaint.

PHOTO: Isabella Hellman is pictured in an undated photo posted to the Find Isabella Facebook page on June 1, 2017.Find Isabella/Facebook
Isabella Hellman is pictured in an undated photo posted to the Find Isabella Facebook page on June 1, 2017.

“I respectfully submit that there is probable cause to believe that Lewis Richard Bennett knowingly and unlawfully killed Isabella Hellman with malice aforethought within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States,” FBI Special Agent James Kelley wrote in the criminal complaint.

Investigators suspect Bennett killed his 41-year-old wife in order to collect on an insurance policy and take sole possession of their marital assets, including bank accounts and a home she owned in Delray Beach, Florida, according to court documents. He also raised suspicions when he asked the Coast Guard for a “letter of presumed death” on the day they called off the search for his wife, four days after she disappeared, according to the complaint.

Isabella Hellman’s body was never found despite a 4,900-square-mile search for her conducted by the Coast Guard.

Bennett, who had been a realtor in South Florida, and Hellman were married in February 2017 and set out on a belated honeymoon in May, according to the court papers.

Bennett told investigators that he and his wife began their sailing trip from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, journeyed to Puerto Rico and arrived in Cuba. They spent a day in Varadero, Cuba, before charting a course back to Florida on the evening of May 17, 2017, the complaint said. He claimed they had planned to either sail to Key West or Fort Lauderdale and around 8 p.m. he set the “auto pilot” on the vessel, told his wife to take watch on deck and headed below to sleep, according to the documents.

PHOTO: The 37-foot catamaran, Surf into Summer, is pictured while partially sunk, May 15, 2017 in the Florida Straits 30 miles west of Cay Sal, Bahamas.U.S. Coast Guard District 7, FILE
The 37-foot catamaran, Surf into Summer, is pictured while partially sunk, May 15, 2017 in the Florida Straits 30 miles west of Cay Sal, Bahamas.more +

“Bennett claimed that he was next awakened by a ‘crashing underneath’ a few hours later,” Kelley wrote in the court papers. “Bennett said he went to the upper deck and Hellman was not there.”

Bennett told investigators he noticed the vessel was taking on water, so he gathered his personal belongings — including unexpended parachute flares, water, a tea set, and nine plastic tubes containing silver coins — and abandoned ship, jumping into a life raft and cutting himself adrift from the sinking catamaran, the court documents state.

When asked during a May 23 interview with investigators what efforts he took to locate his wife in the water, “Bennett said that he did not do anything,” the complaint said.

Instead, he used a satellite phone to call one of wife’s sisters, leaving her a voicemail informing her of Hellman’s disappearance, the complaint said. He then contacted a friend in Australia and asked that they contact the U.S. Coast Guard on his behalf, the complaint said.

“Bennett then made telephonic contact with USCG while awaiting his rescue,” Kelley noted in the complaint.

Within days of arriving back in South Florida, Bennett purchased airline tickets for him and his young daughter and took her to the United Kingdom on May 28.

He was arrested in the stolen coin case in August 2017, when he returned to South Florida for an interview on his insurance claim, the complaint said.

Bennett was arrested for his wife’s murder on the same day Hellman’s parents and sisters sent a letter to federal Judge James Lawrence King complaining that Bennett has kept them away from his daughter, Emilia.

“We do not want to say anything bad about Lewis, but we would like him to know how much it hurts us not to be able to see and spend time with our granddaughter and niece, Emilia, since he took her out of the country,” the family wrote in the letter obtained by ABC News. “Lewis knows that Isabella’s mother was very much involved in caring for Emilia from the time of her birth here in Florida until she was lost at sea.”

PHOTO: Members of the Coast Guard search for Isabella Hellman west of Cay Sal, Bahamas, May 17, 2017.U.S. Coast Guard
Members of the Coast Guard search for Isabella Hellman west of Cay Sal, Bahamas, May 17, 2017.

In his statement, Kelley indicated that Bennett’s story of his catamaran crashing into something in open waters raised suspicions. He said, according to the complaint, that the catamaran’s two escape hatch portholes were inexplicably opened and that holes seen in both hulls were almost identical, according to the complaint.

“I cannot think of any item that would accidentally cause similar holes in both hulls at roughly the same time,” the FBI’s nautical architecture and ocean engineering expert noted in the complaint.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Regional, Travel0 Comments

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