Sitting alongside Commissioner of Police, Mr Michael B. Matthews, this afternoon Tuesday, November 10, 2020, Mr Jaspert engaged the media at Government House, regurgitating most of what was already in the public domain and said by the Commissioner.
Many have said the Governor has been trying to get back into the good grace of the Territory's citizens after he had angered many over his insensitive comments about the United Kingdom not being prepared to pay reparations for the evil acts of slavery and calling for the preservation of names of landmarks in the Virgin Islands in honour of slave owners, slave traders and pirates.
The cocaine find seemed to be the perfect opportunity for the Governor to get some positive spotlight.
The $250M stash is equivalent to 75% of the VI's National Budget Governor Augustus J.U Jaspert said.
“The quantity of cocaine seized is the largest in the British Virgin Islands history, 2,353 kilos as you heard with an estimated street value of around $250,” Governor Jaspert said.
“To put it into context, the value of the seizure equates to around 75% of our entire national budget in the BVI. It is also one of the largest seizures in the history of any British Overseas Territory or even the United Kingdom,” the Governor noted.
The Commissioner had confirmed that the bust was the largest and that Mr Liston Davis, 40, a resident on Tortola and Mr Darren Davis, 41, also a resident of Tortola and a serving RVIPF officer are currently in police custody.
Since the find, international media has shone the spotlight on the territory known for its financial industry, sandy white beaches and pristine waters, which seemed to present another opportunity for Governor Jaspert to capitalise on the publicity.
“I share these figures as an illustration of just how large this seizure is, the police conducted exceptional and high-risk work to enable such a significant seizure. The size of this seizure indicates the risks that such scale can have in the debilitating and potentially deteriorating our territory and good governance and safe communities we expect and deserve,” he said.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the territory has imposed a nighttime curfew with a restriction on private boats, and the drug bust comes at a time of heightened border controls, making illegal water activity easier to spot.
The Governor said in his view and that of law enforcement, the seizure is not the work of a few criminals, rather, it shows strong evidence of serious and organised crime in the VI.
“The investigation is at an early stage but regrettably as you heard the involvement of a police officer indicates that there may be pockets of corruption facilitating this kind of illicit activity. It is important that we act fast to eliminate and prevent this corruption from growing further,” he said.
The Commissioner Mr Micheal B. Matthews had confirmed that Mr Liston Davis, 40, a resident on Tortola and Mr Darren Davis, 41, also a resident on Tortola and a serving RVIPF officer are currently in police custody.
Governor Jaspert also told the media that two persons are in custody after a boat capsized off the Tortola coast on Friday, November 6, 2020.
He said, on Sunday, November 8, 2020, a boat that was reportedly stolen by a known criminal capsized off the coast of the VI and that $99,000 in cash was found on the boat.
The two individuals that were rescued are now in police custody.
While HM Customs Department played a role in the drug find, quite interestingly, the local Comptroller of Customs, Mr Wade N. Smith was absent from the press conference hosted by just the Governor and the Commissioner of Police.
Efforts to reach Mr Smith to find out if he was even invited to the press conference were futile up to the time of publication.