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'This 14-day quarantine ain't making sense!'- Defendant in $30M drug bust

'This 14-day quarantine ain't making sense!'- Defendant in $30M drug bust

Lambert Estate resident and certified boat captain Nickel Simon, who was charged with Cryton Browne, along with Wilferedo Lopez Vargas and Hober Morillo Ybarbia from Venezuela, following a $30 million drug bust in October 2019, has spoken out against the Magistrate’s Court policy that mandates that anyone travelling into the territory to conduct face-to-face business at the court must undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

Magistrate’s Court Manager Annette Williams-Sylvester said through a statement in January 2021 that the policy would take effect from January 25, 2021, and will be a way to safeguard staff and occupants of the courts from COVID-19.

Since her policy was announced, Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone (AL) announced on April 23, that commencing May 15, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers to the territory would be free to explore the territory after their day Zero test is negative for the COVID-19 virus.

The Minister noted that fully vaccinated persons would be required to take the PCR test within five days of their arrival, provide proof of their vaccination and be tested on arrival to the territory, which must be negative.

“I rather have him here …this 14-day quarantine ain't making sense,” Simon remarked, referring to his lawyer, Jason Hamilton from St Kitts, who was unable to be present physically to fight his legal battle.

Trial almost didn’t start

The start of the trial; however, almost didn’t happen yesterday, May 18, 2021, when attorney E. Leroy Jones told the court that he was speaking on behalf of Simon because he was unrepresented at the time.

Mr Jones is the legal representative of the Venezuelan natives.

Mr Jones told the court that initially, Patrick D. Thompson/ PST Law was paid to represent Simon during this proceedings, but Thompson is out of the territory and suggested that a Kittian lawyer, Mr Jason Hamilton handle the matter.

Venezuelans Wilteredo Lopez Vargas, left, and Hover Morillo Ybarbia, right, were charged for the importation of 309 kilograms of a controlled drug, cocaine and illegal entry to the Virgin Islands. They were remanded to prison.

14-day quarantine!

According to Mr Jones, Mr Hamilton was informed by the administrators of the magistrate’s court that he would have to quarantine for 14 days to qualify to attend court for the matter, as per their policy.

Jones said this is notwithstanding that Hamilton took his two COVID-19 jabs.

The attorney explained to the court that Simon is in this predicament because Hamilton was unable to secure a flight that would enable him to quarantine for the two weeks to be able to attend court physically as per the request of Simon, who preferred to have his attorney on the ground.

Following Jones announcement and the subsequent legal arguments on the matter, the presiding magistrate Mr Jack Husbands said the matter had to go on in the interest of time and justice and stated that Hamilton should appear via zoom for the trial.

The US Coast Guard officers who aided in the matter will be giving evidence first, followed by the local law enforcement agencies.

The men were all charged with Importation of a Controlled Drug and Possession of a Controlled Drug with Intent to Supply, and the Venezuelans were given an additional charge of Illegal Entry.

The matter at hand occurred on October 27 2019, and the trial was expected to commence on January 18, but it was adjourned to this week because the Crown added a new charge to the men, Possession of a Controlled Drug with Intent to Supply.


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