The three men who were taken into custody on Tuesday, 24 November, on suspicion of drug importation (see below), have been formally charged. The men, all Jamaican nationals ages 41, 48 and 52, were charged with Illegal Landing and Importation of Ganja, in relation to the approximately 988lbs of ganja, with an estimated value of CI $1,000,000, which was recovered during the incident.
The men appeared in court on Friday, 27 November, and have been remanded in custody until 8 December.
Suspected Ganja smuggler feared dead at sea
Just before 11:30 PM on Tuesday 24 November, officers from the Cayman Islands Coast Guard while on border patrol came upon a suspicious vessel approximately two (2) nautical miles off the coast of East End. Upon approach by the CG patrol vessel, two of the occupants jumped overboard and into the water, taking packages with them.
The CICG team immediately began a search and rescue operation for the two males who had entered the water and were able to locate and rescue one of them after he had drifted away from the suspicious vessel. A further search was conducted in the vicinity and along the shoreline for the second person with negative results. Due to deteriorating weather conditions and treacherous seas (sea swells of 7 – 9 feet every 5 seconds) a dynamic risk assessment decision was made to have the CICG vessel seek the safest harbour, to ensure the health and safety of the three (3) remaining detained males (including two (2) others who had remained on the vessel) and the crew of the CICG vessel. RCIPS and CICG continue with both sea and shoreline searches, which resumed early this morning when it was safe to do so, assisted by the Air Operations Unit.
During the search and rescue operation, numerous packages were recovered in the suspicious vessel containing what is believed to be a significant quantity of Ganja. The three males from the suspicious vessel were detained and remain in custody under investigation.
RCIPS and the CICG continued air and sea search efforts on Thursday 26 to locate the missing male who jumped overboard on Tuesday 24 November, with negative results.
Due to the elapsed time over the past 30 hours, rough sea conditions, sea current patterns and water temperature being experienced across the Cayman Islands, unfortunately the search and rescue operation has transitioned into a search and recovery operation at that time
The Office of the Ombudsman is overseeing matters in the investigation potentially involving the serious harm of a member of the public who had been in recent contact with the RCIPS.
The RCIPS continues to seek the assistance of the public to locate and identify this missing male who is described as being tall, dark-skinned with long dreadlocks, wearing shorts, and believed to be known as "Blacks" or "Paul". Anyone with information about this person and incident is asked to contact the RCIPS Major Incident Room (MIR) at 649-2930.
All persons detained from the suspicious vessel remain in custody and have been tested for COVID-19 as part of COVID-19 protocols, with negative results. The investigation into the importation of the drugs continues.