Following a ruling that the Magistrate’s Court will accept a crucial analyst report into evidence; testimony from a United States coastguard yesterday revealed that Tarik Aaron and Leshaughn Smith were allegedly transporting what could be more than the originally stated 24 kilograms of cocaine, which were recovered at sea on February 2 last year.
Coastguard Alejandro Cordova, who works with Customs and Border Patrol in the US Virgin Islands, told the court that ‘debris’ was seen roughly 60 feet away from the vessel in question, when he and his team intercepted the accused men.
Cordova, who was testifying via video conferencing yesterday (May 3), described the ‘debris’ as blocks suspected of being contraband.
He stated that a box, as well as a strapless blue bag, was found among the debris. Both of those items contained ‘blocks’ of cocaine, the court heard.
He testified that authorities boarded the accused men’s vessel, and discovered identical blue straps seemingly linked to the strapless bag that was found in the water with cocaine.
Cordova said the straps were tied together on the floor of the vessel.
He told the court that law enforcers detained the two accused men, then retrieved as many blocks as possible from the water. A number of the blocks sank before they were reached, Cordova said.
He further told the court that law enforcers immediately did two narcotic identification tests (NIK) on the substance that was found in the blocks.
“A measurable amount of white powdery substance was put into the NIK kit, and it turned out positive for cocaine,” Cordova further told the court.
He stated that the scenes he was describing were in the vicinity of Little Thatch island, in an area known as ‘The Narrow’.
Court accepts major evidence
In the meantime, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards yesterday ruled in favour of the prosecution in relation to a major piece of evidence – an analyst report.
The report is said to detail whether the blue ‘OneMart’ bag and identical straps found during the operation at sea are matching items.
The prosecution previously attempted to enter the analyst report into evidence, but was met with objection from the accused men’s attorneys.
The defence attorneys argued that the report, which was drafted by an overseas-based analyst, can only be entered into evidence if the analyst testifies as an expert in the case.
Magistrate Richards however ruled that the report can be admitted into evidence without a testimony from the expert who submitted it.
“The document can be admissible subject to the Crown proving the qualifications of the [analyst],” the magistrate further said.
Aaron is being represented by attorney-at-law Patrick Thompson, while Smith is jointly being represented by Valerie Stephens-Gordon and Stacey Abel.
Aaron and Smith are charged with possession of a controlled drug with the intent to supply to another.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.