By Davion Smith, BVI News Online staff
Two visitors from Trinidad and Tobago were hauled before the Magistrate’s Court this afternoon for allegedly trying to smuggle a combined total of US$67,538 out of the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The court heard that cash was found strapped to the body of one visitor. Money was also allegedly found under layers of clothing worn by the other accused.
The two were caught while attempting to board a flight back to the twin-island republic on Tuesday, July 4.
The accused duo has been identified as 28-year-old Rachelle Emrith and 44-year-old Allan Birju.
Both are charged with possession of proceeds of criminal conduct; engagement in smuggling; and assisting another to retain the benefit of the proceeds of criminal conduct. Emrith was slapped with an additional charge – failing to declare monies to Customs.
The accused who are being represented by attorney-at-law Stephen Daniels were not made to plead before Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards today.
The prosecution alleged that members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force were called to the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport on July 4.
They had received reports that the two accused were attempting to leave the BVI with large quantities of United States currency.
When authorities searched Emrith, several packages wrapped in plastic allegedly were discovered taped to her waist, sides, and back. The court heard that the packages contained money, which local authorities said was a total of $58,050. As a result, Emrith was charged.
During a police interview, she reportedly said: “Officer, I have a young child to feed. I did not know I had to declare the monies. Things are hard in Trinidad… Please give me break.”
Emrith added that she arrived in the BVI on June 29 with her co-accused, Birju, who came to ‘help’ her.
In the meantime, the court heard that Birju was also searched during his attempted departure from the territory. The authorities claimed that they recovered $9,488 from a pair of shorts he was wearing under a pair of long jeans pants. Some of the cash was also found allegedly inside the pants pockets.
When he was brought to the headquarters of Her Majesty’s Customs, Birju allegedly claimed that he accompanied Emrith to the BVI, and that most of the cash found belonged to her.
During a subsequent interview at the Road Town Police Station, however, the accused man reportedly gave a different story. He allegedly told police that he brought the money from Trinidad, adding that he did not arrive in the BVI with his co-accused Emrith. He further claimed that he merely stayed with his co-accused at Ke Villas in Carrot Bay, BVI.
Subsequently, both Birju and Emrith were charged.
Magistrate Richards ordered that the accused duo be remanded until the next court appearance on July 13. At that time, they are expected to answer to the charges.