Dominicans sent to jail for trafficking persons across after their boat washed ashore in Rendezvous

Dominican men boat washed up on the Rendezvous bay rocks, was confiscated as supposedly having transported ‘unauthorised migrants

Over the past couple of weeks, the East Caribbean Supreme Court was busy in Montserrat with Justice Ian Morley, sitting in the high court some days as late as ten o’clock in the night, hearing criminal and civil matters.

One such matter among several criminal matters received urgent attention as two 26-year and 34-year old Dominican men traveling by boat between Dominica and St. Maarten, who called the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS) for help when their boat ran aground among the rocks at Rendezvous Bay on the northwestern end of Montserrat.

Their call ended with the police in short order on 12th September, 2019, charging both men with two counts as follows:

(1) SMUGGLING MIGRANTS contrary to section 210(1) of the Penal Code, Cap 4.02; which says, “A person who arranges for an unauthorised migrant to enter Montserrat or any other state, if he or she—

(a) does so for a material benefit; and

(b) either knows that the person is, or is reckless as to whether the person is, an unauthorised migrant, commits an offence.” This carries a penalty as follows: “(3) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable on indictment to imprisonment for twenty years, a fine of $500,000 or both.”

The second count, “IMPORTATION OF A CONTROLLED DRUG contrary to section 5(3) of the Drug (Prevention of Misuse) Act, Cap 4.07, which reads: “(3) Any person who imports or exports controlled drugs contrary to subsection (1) shall be guilty of a drug trafficking offence and liable on conviction therefor to the penalties laid down in section 27.”

The indictments ‘particulars of offence’ read: “MARTIN JNOBAPTISTE and DANNY HENRY, between the 5th day of September, 2019 and the 12th day of September, 2019, did, for material benefit, arrange for an unauthorised migrant to enter the territory of St Maarten, knowing or being reckless as to whether such person was an unauthorised migrant.”

On Count Two, the ‘particulars of offence’ read: the two men – “on the 12th day of September, 2019, at Rendezvous Bay in the Overseas Territory of Montserrat, did import a controlled drug, to wit 32 seeds and particles of dry vegetable matter of the plant Cannabis Sativa.”

The RMPS had according to one report said that the two Dominican men who were rescued at sea last month were smuggling 24 Haitian migrants to St. Martin.

The Marine unit had discovered the vessel after it ran aground just north of Rendezvous in September. Police say an extensive search of the area was conducted by Marine

officers and officers from the integrated border security unit for the migrants. However, they were not found.

The report continued that police are uncertain whether or not the migrants were landed in Montserrat. The RMPS say the vessel MV Cats was also searched and portions of the plant Cannabis Sativa was found.

Both men appeared finally before Justice Morley on Friday, October 18 and pleaded guilty to the charges, following an outline by Justice Morley of a possible sentence both men would receive. During the week the matter had been called up several times when Attorney Warren Cassell who represented both men and made submissions to the court, where at one point regarding the statement given suggested to the court he would request a ‘voir dire’ (preliminary examination on oath of a proposed witness…). It appeared and we will confirm that both men in their statements to the police did not acknowledge responsibility for the statement of the trafficking and the importation the restricted drug.

Further to that report by the police a brief summary of the details of the evidence against the men included that one of the men in statement told police that they had transported 24 persons to St. Martin, while a woman from Dominica had appeared in Montserrat and claimed ownership to the MV Cats which as part of the sentencing was ordered confiscated.

The sentence meted out was four years imprisonment to both men, after the judge as he has been doing throughout the assizes applied the guide to sentencing as were recently enacted by the ECSC.

Following sentencing and throughout few persons attending the hearing were confused on hearing that these persons could be guilty of an offence of committing  crimes when there was no corroborating evidence presented of these men having trafficked persons or brought cannabis sativa on to the island.

At the time of reporting the men’s attorney Warren Cassell said he was seriously considering an appeal in the matter.

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Dominican men boat washed up on the Rendezvous bay rocks, was confiscated as supposedly having transported ‘unauthorised migrants

Over the past couple of weeks, the East Caribbean Supreme Court was busy in Montserrat with Justice Ian Morley, sitting in the high court some days as late as ten o’clock in the night, hearing criminal and civil matters.

One such matter among several criminal matters received urgent attention as two 26-year and 34-year old Dominican men traveling by boat between Dominica and St. Maarten, who called the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS) for help when their boat ran aground among the rocks at Rendezvous Bay on the northwestern end of Montserrat.

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Their call ended with the police in short order on 12th September, 2019, charging both men with two counts as follows:

(1) SMUGGLING MIGRANTS contrary to section 210(1) of the Penal Code, Cap 4.02; which says, “A person who arranges for an unauthorised migrant to enter Montserrat or any other state, if he or she—

(a) does so for a material benefit; and

(b) either knows that the person is, or is reckless as to whether the person is, an unauthorised migrant, commits an offence.” This carries a penalty as follows: “(3) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable on indictment to imprisonment for twenty years, a fine of $500,000 or both.”

The second count, “IMPORTATION OF A CONTROLLED DRUG contrary to section 5(3) of the Drug (Prevention of Misuse) Act, Cap 4.07, which reads: “(3) Any person who imports or exports controlled drugs contrary to subsection (1) shall be guilty of a drug trafficking offence and liable on conviction therefor to the penalties laid down in section 27.”

The indictments ‘particulars of offence’ read: “MARTIN JNOBAPTISTE and DANNY HENRY, between the 5th day of September, 2019 and the 12th day of September, 2019, did, for material benefit, arrange for an unauthorised migrant to enter the territory of St Maarten, knowing or being reckless as to whether such person was an unauthorised migrant.”

On Count Two, the ‘particulars of offence’ read: the two men – “on the 12th day of September, 2019, at Rendezvous Bay in the Overseas Territory of Montserrat, did import a controlled drug, to wit 32 seeds and particles of dry vegetable matter of the plant Cannabis Sativa.”

The RMPS had according to one report said that the two Dominican men who were rescued at sea last month were smuggling 24 Haitian migrants to St. Martin.

The Marine unit had discovered the vessel after it ran aground just north of Rendezvous in September. Police say an extensive search of the area was conducted by Marine

officers and officers from the integrated border security unit for the migrants. However, they were not found.

The report continued that police are uncertain whether or not the migrants were landed in Montserrat. The RMPS say the vessel MV Cats was also searched and portions of the plant Cannabis Sativa was found.

Both men appeared finally before Justice Morley on Friday, October 18 and pleaded guilty to the charges, following an outline by Justice Morley of a possible sentence both men would receive. During the week the matter had been called up several times when Attorney Warren Cassell who represented both men and made submissions to the court, where at one point regarding the statement given suggested to the court he would request a ‘voir dire’ (preliminary examination on oath of a proposed witness…). It appeared and we will confirm that both men in their statements to the police did not acknowledge responsibility for the statement of the trafficking and the importation the restricted drug.

Further to that report by the police a brief summary of the details of the evidence against the men included that one of the men in statement told police that they had transported 24 persons to St. Martin, while a woman from Dominica had appeared in Montserrat and claimed ownership to the MV Cats which as part of the sentencing was ordered confiscated.

The sentence meted out was four years imprisonment to both men, after the judge as he has been doing throughout the assizes applied the guide to sentencing as were recently enacted by the ECSC.

Following sentencing and throughout few persons attending the hearing were confused on hearing that these persons could be guilty of an offence of committing  crimes when there was no corroborating evidence presented of these men having trafficked persons or brought cannabis sativa on to the island.

At the time of reporting the men’s attorney Warren Cassell said he was seriously considering an appeal in the matter.