The elderly Ecuadorian visitor recently held at the TB Lettsome International Airport with more than half-million dollars has confessed to the crime.
Arturo Basantes had originally pleaded not guilty to engagement in smuggling, failing to declare monies to Customs, and possession of proceeds of criminal conduct.
But, while claiming to be poor health and in need of a ‘quick trial’, Basantes changed all his pleas to ‘guilty’ when he made his second appearance in the Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, August 15.
Basantes is now scheduled to be sentenced on August 22.
Defence attorney Stephen Daniels is representing the 72-year-old offender.
The Crown’s case
The elderly man was caught carrying $577,830 in predominantly $20 and $10 notes. That sum is more than fifty times the $10,000 legal amount allowed to a single traveller.
Among the money were 18 counterfeit $20 bills and one fake $10 bill.
Basantes, who said he is a pig farmer and shoe store owner, claims the cash was to purchase a vessel in the territory.
According to the Crown, Basantes arrived in the territory on July 25 and was due to depart a day later.
While attempting to leave the territory via the TB Lettsome International Airport, authorities became suspicious when he passed through the airport’s security checkpoint.
Images on their computer screen showed what appeared to be a ‘large’ amount of cash among his belongings, and upon further examination, their suspicions were confirmed.
Basantes was at the time carrying a laptop bag and two blue suitcases with one change of clothing.
He has been in custody since.
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