Customs officer caught with $31,000 of cocaine

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A former customs officer is facing a long prison sentence after he admitted possession of $31,000 worth of cocaine with intent to supply.

Roberto Marques, then still serving in customs, was arrested outside a Pembroke grocery store with 30 bags of cocaine hidden in a sunglasses case, Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Nicole Smith, prosecutor, said Marques, 41, should serve at least 12 years in jail.

“His actions in November of 2016 were the opposite of everything that he swore to uphold,” she added.

“Marques, at the time of the offence, was a customs officer and had been for eight years.

“He was responsible for protecting our borders from the importation of illegal and illicit substances.”

The court heard that Marques and co-accused Ryan Willingham-Walker, 34, were caught by police last November.

Officers were watching the parking area at Arnold’s store on St John’s Road when Marques arrived in a car. Willingham-Walker got into the front passenger seat and left the car around five minutes later.

Police swooped as Marques tried to pull out of the parking area and arrested both men.

Marques admitted he had some “molly” — cathinone, a drug similar to amphetamines but legal — stored in the centre console.

But they also found the sunglasses case with 30 ziplock bags containing cocaine.

Willingham-Walker was found to be carrying 6.4 grams of cocaine and a small amount of cathinone.

A search of Marques’s home turned up more cocaine — a total of 131 grams of the drug from his house and car worth $31,375.

Police also found more cannabis at Willingham-Walker’s home, with the total seized from his clothes and property said to be 144 grammes — worth around $6,750.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to possession of drug equipment and money laundering.

Marques also pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and Willingham-Walker admitted possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

Ms Smith told the court that Marques’s job as a customs officer was an aggravating factor and should be reflected in his sentence.

Defence lawyer Charles Richardson suggested a jail term of less than eight years.

He added that Marques’s job should be taken into account — but that there was no suggestion he had abused his role as a customs officer.

Mr Richardson said his client was a cocaine addict who had never received treatment.

Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves adjourned the case until Tuesday when both men are expected to be sentenced.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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