Former Gazette employee convicted over drugs

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A former Royal Gazette employee is behind bars today after being found guilty of being part of a major global operation to smuggle nearly $1 million worth of cocaine into Bermuda.

Curtis Swan was also convicted of possessing more than $130,000 in dirty money and removing $90,000 from the island that police believe was earned from the illegal trade of narcotics on the island.

Today, the 54-year-old faces a maximum of life imprisonment for conspiracy to import cocaine into Bermuda and money-laundering.

During the course of a five-week trial at Supreme Court, jurors heard that Swan was caught red-handed in May 2015 after he picked up a package containing shredded paper and glass vases from FedEx in Hamilton.

Authorities in the United States had already intercepted the package, which originated in Panama, and removed the packaging that was found to have been soaked in cocaine hydrochloride.

After Swan picked up the package he was kept under supervision as he stopped at Bermuda Paint and bought liquid ammonia on behalf of The Royal Gazette — which he was not authorised to do. Prosecutors told the court that the chemical would have been used to remove the cocaine from the shredded paper and would have produced a large quantity of crack cocaine with a street value of over $811,000.

When police descended on Swan’s Warwick home, they discovered more vases and other packaging, which contained traces of cocaine, that they believed showed this was not the first attempt to smuggle in the cocaine from Panama.

Further inquiries by financial crime officers revealed that huge quantities of cash had been deposited in Swan’s three Bermuda bank accounts between January 2013 and 2015 and withdrawn soon after the money was transferred.

Examination of his bank account records showed that Swan had removed just over $92,000 from Bermuda through his various accounts that had then been withdrawn from cash points in Trinidad and Panama.

He had also personally tried to launder a further $39,000 in ill-gotten gains by exchanging Bermuda dollars for US currency at various financial establishments in Bermuda.

Swan was arrested and questioned by police on May 28, 2015.

He admitted picking up the package from FedEx but claimed he had no idea it had contained drugs.

During his trial Swan took the stand and again insisted that he had done nothing wrong and had no idea that he had been involved in a drug importation conspiracy.

However, the jury rejected his version of events and found him guilty of all charges by a majority decision.

He was remanded in custody until the beginning of next month when a sentencing date will be set.

• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal 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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