Jamaican cocaine smuggler jailed for six years

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A 22-year-old man was jailed yesterday for six years for smuggling more than $200,000 of cocaine into Bermuda.

Dwayne George Watson was caught at the airport after flying to Bermuda from Jamaica through New York.

Supreme Court heard Watson, from Jamaica, was stopped for a random search after he passed through customs and collected a single suitcase on September 1 last year.

Customs officers noticed he shook while he answered questions and that the zipper of the suitcase had been zip-tied shut.

An X-ray of the case showed “irregularities” in the handle.

Customs officers drilled into the handle and found white powder inside.

A further search revealed 11 packages of cocaine and cocaine freebase, also known as crack, hidden in the case’s base, handle and corners.

More than a kilogram of cocaine was found, which prosecutors said had an estimated street value of up to $200,634.

Watson told police he had agreed to bring cannabis into Bermuda after he struggled to find a job in Jamaica.

He said he expected to receive $3,000 and planned to use the cash to buy a taxi.

Watson said he was given the suitcase in Jamaica and was shocked to discover later that it contained cocaine.

Crown prosecutor Takiyah Burgess asked for a sentence of ten years and six months.

She told the court Watson knew he was importing drugs, even if he believed the drug was cannabis, but said he deserved credit for an early guilty plea and his previous clean record.

Defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher argued that a sentence of five years would be more appropriate.

She told the court: “It is a very significant mitigating factor that he thought he was bringing in cannabis.”

Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said: “He was to receive $3,000 for the importation of drugs, a small amount when you consider the untold damage that the cocaine would have had on the Bermuda community had the defendant not been caught.”

The judge said Watson was entitled to some discount for his belief that he was importing cannabis rather than cocaine, but not a significant discount.

He sentenced Watson to six years, but ordered that any time on remand should be taken into account.

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