An extradition hearing is to be held Jan. 19 for five men facing United States cocaine charges, Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens ruled Friday. Ms. Stephens had offered to hear the case any date before she finishes sitting for the year on Dec. 12, but the defence lawyers for the men each had various commitments that made finding a common date impossible.

“The court has always been available from the first of November to the 12th of December to deal with this matter,” Ms. Stephens said.

J. S. Archibald, QC, who represents Earl “Bob” Hodge, one of the defendants in the case, said the wait might have been averted if US authorities had filed extradition-related materials earlier.

The five men — Mr. Hodge, Roberto “Tico” Harrigan, Chad Skelton, Carlston Beazer and Juan Valdez — also face Virgin Islands charges related to their alleged participation in a 13-year conspiracy that authorities claim brought thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Latin America to the VI and US.

See the Nov. 3, 2011 edition for full coverage.