More than two years after he was allegedly caught smuggling migrants into the territory, a 25-year-old
Damion Callwood, a charter boat captain, pleaded not guilty when he made his first appearance before Magistrate Ayana Baptiste-DaBreo on Wednesday.
The court heard that about 7:35 pm on February 6, 2017, members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force were conducting mobile patrol duties near the police marine base in Road Reef, Tortola.
While driving, they observed movements which raised suspicion and approached the nearby dock to investigate.
They then observed a white motor vessel with the word ‘Scarab 27’ written on it, and upon closer examination, the officers saw other persons on the boat who appeared to be hiding.
They then observed the accused sitting on the dock with his leg on the vessel.
The court heard that police searched the boat. The occupants were then asked to produce identification, and upon closer examination, the officers reportedly observed that the occupants’ Dominican Republic’s passports did not contain a BVI visa.
As a result, Callwood was cautioned and informed that he was suspected of being involved in illegal smuggling.
In response, the accused man reportedly said the boat belonged to someone else. However, Callwood was seen turning the lights on the vessel on, the court heard.
All the occupants – two Dominican Republic men, one Dominican Republic woman and two Venezuelan females – were transported to the Road Town Police Station.
They all admitted to entering the territory without the required visas and the leave of an Immigration officer.
One of the occupants also claimed that he paid a man $400 to take him to St. Thomas in the neighbouring US Virgin Islands.
The occupants were subsequently charged with illegal entry. Callwood was also charged for smuggling.
During his court appearance on Wednesday, Callwood was granted $60,000 signed bail and was ordered to report to the Road Town Police Station every Friday between 6 am to 6 pm.
Attorney Stephen Daniels represents the accused. The accused man’s trial is set for October 28 and 29.
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