Two of the three Venezuelans who were found in a Tortola apartment with nearly US$60,000 and a loaded gun were sentenced to prison when they appeared before Magistrate Ayanna Baptise DaBreo on Friday. The third offender was freed.
The convicted trio, which comprises Andri Zacarias, Jose Rosquel, and Arolde Marin, was sentenced in relation to multiple offences.
Marin, who is the eldest of the three, accepted blame for the firearm and was subsequently slapped with a five-year prison sentence. He was also sentenced to four months in prison for the seven bullets found in the gun.
Magistrate DaBreo then fined him $1,000 for overstaying in the territory. He will serve two months in prison if the fine is not paid.
The magistrate ordered that he serve the sentences concurrently (at the same time).
Rosquel, in the meantime, was fined $10,000 OR serve six months in prison for failure to declare monies to Customs.
He was also sentenced to three months in prison AND fined $1,000 for illegal entry. He will serve another two months behind bars if he does not pay the fine.
Rosquel was then slapped with a one-year prison sentence AND fined another $6,000 for engaging in smuggling. He will serve an additional six months in prison if he does not pay that fine.
The third offender, Zacarias, who was only charged with overstaying, was sentenced to ‘time served’. The court ruled that the time he already spent on remand was sufficient punishment.
He will now be released into the custody of Immigration officers.
While handing down the sentences on Friday, Magistrate DaBreo ruled that the near-$60,000 found in the offenders’ possession be forfeited to the BVI government.
All three men were represented by attorney-at-law Leroy Jones.
The Prosecution’s case
It is reported 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.
The Prosecution reported 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 met two of the offenders, Marin and Zacarias, inside their apartment.
The two men were asked about their status in the BVI and were further told to present the relevant documentation.
The documents 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.
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 roughly $4,000 cash and a number cellular phone boxes that were scattered across both beds.
Gun hidden in toilet, man hides under bed
Zacarias was told to name the person who was using the second bed, and he sharply replied: “Nobody.”
Shortly after, law enforcers found Rosquel hiding under one of the beds.
The search team then went into the bathroom, where just over $50,000 United States currency was found inside the tank of the toilet.
The police were subsequently contacted. During a search of another room occupied by Marin, the law enforcers discovered a handgun with seven rounds of ammunition in the toilet tank.
The men were arrested and fingerprinted. Marin’s prints were lifted from the cover of the toilet tank that contained the gun.
The money found amounted to about $58,413.
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