Three Venezuelan visitors who reportedly were found with nearly $60,000 in United States currency and a loaded firearm in a Tortola apartment were ordered remanded when they appeared before Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste DaBreo.
Those charged with keeping a firearm without a licence as well as unlawful possession of explosives are 28-year-old Andri Zacarias, 37-year-old Jose Rosquel, and 38-year-old Arolde Marin.
Marin pleaded guilty to both gun-related charges, while the other two accused pleaded not guilty.
Marin and Zacarias were also charged with overstaying. They pleaded guilty to this charge.
Rosquel, in the meantime, was slapped with two more charges – illegal entry and failure to declare monies to Customs. He pleaded guilty to both.
The prosecution alleged that authorities in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) recovered the illegal weapon and majority of the cash inside two toilet tanks at apartments where the men were staying.
It is alleged that, on August 28, members of the Immigration task force visited the Omar Hodge Building in Cox Heath in search of the visitors.
Law enforcers knocked on the door of the apartment, but got no answer.
They heard talking inside the apartment, and so they continued to knock.
The law enforcers eventually received an answer; after which Marin and Zacarias appeared.
The two men were asked about their status in the BVI, and were further told to present the relevant documentation.
The documents reportedly revealed that they had been overstaying in the territory.
Customs officers were then called to the scene to help conduct a search of the apartments.
It is alleged that, during the search, the law enforcers recovered a number of electronics.
The officers also noticed two beds in a room occupied by Zacarias.
They allegedly recovered a pouch containing about $4,000 cash and a number cell phone boxes that were scattered across both beds.
Zacarias was told to name the person who was using the second bed, and he allegedly replied sharply: “Nobody.”
Shortly afterwards, law enforcers reportedly found Rosquel hiding under one of the beds.
The prosecution reported that the search team went into the bathroom, where a large quantity of cash was found inside the tank of the toilet.
The police were subsequently contacted.
During a search of another room on the top level of the building, the law enforcers discovered a handgun with seven rounds of ammunition in the toilet tank.
Marin was the one staying in that apartment, the court heard.
The men were arrested and their fingerprints taken.
It is alleged that Marin’s prints were lifted from the cover of the toilet tank that contained the gun.
The court was told that the money amounted to about $58,413.
After she heard the allegations, Magistrate Baptiste-DaBreo said: “Given that they have no legal status in the country, this court is not in a position to consider bail.”
The accused trio, which is being represented by attorney-at-law Leroy Jones, will return to court for respective sentencing hearings on October 6.
At that time, the prosecution is also expected to outline how it will proceed in relation to two of the accused men who pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the gun-related charges.
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