One of two men found in BVI waters with more than $800,000 cash last Friday has been offered $200,000 bail.
Jointly charged with possession of proceeds of criminal conduct and failing to declare monies to Her Majesty’s Customs are USVI national Kemel Stefon Wilson and Alberto Campusano Valera who is Dominican Republic native residing in the BVI.
They were also charged with illegal entry and failing to comply with an order.
Wilson pleaded not guilty to the offences while Valera was not made to answer to the charges during his virtual appearance before Magistrate Tamia Richards on June 19.
The court heard that on June 16, members of the Joint Task Force were in the vicinity of the Tobago islands. While there, they observed a blue and white go-fast vessel with two outboard engines coming from the waters of St John, USVI and heading towards Great Thatch Island.
While observing the vessel, authorities said they noticed it was heading to Jost Van Dyke. However, when the occupants realized they were being pursued, they headed to Smugglers cove on Tortola.
The court heard that the authorities — which comprised of officers from Customs, Immigration and the police force — gave chase with the use of the siren for about seven minutes.
When the officers realized that the vessel was not slowing down despite being ordered to stop, they had to make manoeuvres to force the boat to come to a halt.
During the search of the vessel, there were two black bags at the back of the vessel, and when the Joint Task Force questioned the men on the contents, they remained silent.
A search of the bags was conducted and several transparent vacuum-sealed bags with “large sums of cash” was discovered.
They were subsequently transferred to the Road Town Police Station and charged. The money seized amounted to $804,306.
The Crown objected to bail for Wilson but not for Valera.
Valera’s attorney Leroy Jones said his client is 37 years old and has been a resident of the territory for the past 12 years. He is also the owner of a company and is married to a BVIslander for more than six years.
“We respectfully submit that this defendant is eligible for bail,” Jones argued.
Magistrate Richards then granted bail. Half of the $200,000 bail amount must be paid in cash while the other half must be signed with sureties.
As part of his bail conditions, Valera must visit the Road Town Police Station between 6 am and 12 noon daily, surrender all travel documents, and keep away from beaches and boats. He must also remain indoors between 6 pm and 6 am daily.
Police will make checks at his BelleVue residence to ensure that he complies with the conditions of his bail.
Defence attorney Stephen Daniels represents Wilson.
The accused men are scheduled to return to court on July 28.
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