On Friday, Emile Jimenez became the second police officer charged in connection with the record-breaking cocaine bust on Nov. 6, and he pleaded not guilty to the six gun and drug charges against him before receiving a bail offer of $375,000 with two signed sureties.
In connection to the Nov. 6 seizure of about 2.3 tonnes of cocaine following a search at the property of police officer Darren Davis, Mr. Jimenez was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply, and one count each of unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm, keeping a firearm without a licence, and being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug to another, Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin said.
The constable’s arrest is the latest development in the fallout from last month’s bust, which also included United States authorities’ Nov. 18 capture of a former Tortola resident they alleged to be the leader of an international drug smuggling operation responsible for the cocaine found in Balsam Ghut.
After Ms. Benjamin read the complaints to Mr. Jimenez, who then entered his not-guilty pleas, Crown Counsel Kristain Johnson elaborated on the allegations.
On the morning of the Nov.6 raid, the prosecutor read, CCTV footage shows Mr. Jimenez driving his black Audi behind a three-yard truck as part of a “convoy” travelling from East End to West End.
Later in the afternoon, at around 2 p.m., Messrs. Jimenez and Davis “visited the Balsam Ghut address [where the raid took place] and spent over half an hour at the location before leaving the location together,” Mr. Johnson alleged.
During the raid Mr. Jimenez, who was scheduled for duty that day from 3-11p.m., was late to arrive at the West End Police Station, the prosecutor read.
Sometime after 6:30 p.m., the three-yard truck arrived at the Balsam Ghut property carrying several bales of what was suspected to be cocaine, which was then “offloaded,” the prosecutor read.
Although Mr. Jimenez was not part of the team that searched the Balsam Ghut property during the operation later that night, Mr. Johnson alleged that while in uniform, he drove “his personal motor vehicle” from the police station to the property, where he asked “what was the police doing on the property.”
As a result of the raid, police officers seized the 2.3 tonnes of cocaine and several firearms from a metal container, a three-yard truck, and a Ford Explorer that contained documents dated this year and bearing Mr. Jimenez’s name, Mr. Johnson alleged.
Warrants were later executed on phone numbers “attributed to” Messrs. Jimenez, Davis and others, which revealed that “a large traffic of calls were made between the defendant and several men for several months,” according to the Crown’s allegations.
On the day of the bust, several calls were made between Messrs. Jimenez and Davis just before the three-yard truck was seen transporting the suspected cocaine, Mr. Johnson alleged.
On the morning of Nov. 30, Mr. Jimenez was met by police officers at the West End Police Station, where he was “informed of the offence” of being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug to another, cautioned, and taken to his home, where police executed a search warrant, Mr. Johnson alleged.
This search did not yield anything illegal, the Crown counsel read.
After police concluded their search of his house, Mr. Jimenez was taken to the Road Town Police Station.
There, police read each charge against Mr. Jimenez, informed him of his prisoner’s rights, and conducted an audio/video interview, though Mr. Jimenez declined to comment, Mr. Johnson alleged.
Before officially making a bail application, defence attorney Stephen Daniels asked the prosecutor whether the Crown would oppose bail, and Mr. Johnson answered in the negative. “There’s a component in the High Court … where others involved or others arrested who are linked to these investigations and to these offences have been given bail by the High Court, and we’d like for the same conditions to be applied for this matter,” the prosecutor explained.
In laying out his client’s “social background,” Mr. Daniels said Mr. Jimenez is a 32-year-old national of the territory, with a 9-year-old child and no previous convictions.
He added, “If the court is so minded” to be guided by the High Court’s decision to grant bail to others accused in the matter, “It of course would be useful if the court could adopt those conditions on behalf of ” Mr. Jimenez.
As Ms. Benjamin had received a consent order signed by the director of public prosecutions, and as the prosecution did not express any objection to the defendant being offered bail, Ms. Benjamin decided to make a bail offer of $375,000 with two signed sureties.
Previously, Ms. Benjamin denied bail to Mr. Davis and his brother Liston Davis, who were both charged with three counts of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply and keeping an unlicensed firearm when they appeared in Magistrates’ Court on Nov. 10.
Calls to the High Court to confirm whether the Davis brothers were given bail after appealing to the High Court were not immediately successful.
The Beacon recently was blocked from attending High Court bail appeal proceedings for a US fisherman.
As part of Mr. Jimenez’s bail conditions, Ms. Benjamin ordered him to surrender all travel documents and to report to the nearest police station Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
She also imposed on him a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Mr. Jimenez’s matter is set for a report at High Court on Jan. 27, Ms. Benjamin added.