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Woman in drugs trial feared she’d be shot

A 53-year-old woman took the stand in her defence yesterday in the Supreme Court, telling a jury she feared being targeted by gangsters if she didn’t bring “illegal” luggage back to Bermuda from the US.

Mary Johnson is accused of conspiring with others, between a date unknown and October 21 of last year, to import cannabis to the Island.

The jury has been told that she was caught by US security at Newark Liberty International Airport, with 49 kilos of packaged cannabis concealed in four false-bottomed bags, and turned over to Bermuda authorities.

In court, Ms Johnson admitted accepting money before her trip from a Bermudian man, KJ, of Deepdale Road, whom she knew to be a drug dealer.

Under questioning by her lawyer, Larry Mussenden, Ms Johnson described running laundry and food errands for KJ, who then contacted her shortly before her trip to the US.

Ms Johnson admitted she had been asked to bring back a bag, and had taken more than $2,500 in cash from KJ.

She insisted: “I wasn’t bringing back no bag; I wanted his money.”

However, when she found herself left with four bags in her Newark, New Jersey hotel room, Ms Johnson said she became afraid.

“I live in the 42 area,” she said of her Pembroke neighbourhood, which is popularly associated with the 42 gang.

“When it comes to something like that, I just thought, what can I do now? I have seen people get shot at around Middletown.”

Mr Mussenden asked: “Did you think they would shoot you if you didn’t bring the bags to Bermuda?”

“I thought that,” Ms Johnson replied, adding: “I tried to be a big-time strong girl.”

She told Mr Mussenden she had never agreed to bring back the bags, and did not know what they contained.

Her trip to the US had been to visit a terminally ill relative, she said, as well as well-known Bermuda Pastor, Ronnie Smith, who was dying in hospital.

Shortly before her return, Ms Johnson said, a Bermudian associate of KJ, described as “a Deepdale boy” and accompanied by a Bermudian woman, brought three bags to her hotel room, and another man later dropped off a fourth in the lobby, which she retrieved.

Ms Johnson said she felt threatened when the Deepdale associate took pictures of her with the bags, using a cellular phone.

Contacted by KJ in the security line at Newark Airport, Ms Johnson said she shouted: “What’s with all these f***ing bags? You got people rolling up on me.”

Ms Johnson said KJ told her he had “paid everybody off” at the Bermuda airport, but that she cried and prayed, not knowing how to get rid of the bags.

She also ended up paying $300 to check the overweight luggage.

Cross-examined by prosecutor Larissa Burgess, an emotional Ms Johnson denied being in an agreement with KJ, or expecting to get paid thousands more in Bermuda.

Ms Johnson said: “I am still afraid to walk out. Anything could happen. I have said who these people are.”

She disputed evidence given earlier in the trial by US Drug Enforcement agents, who said she had admitted suspecting the bags contained “narcotics”.

She agreed with Ms Burgess that she had known KJ’s Deepdale associate was also involved in drugs.

Ms Burgess told her: “You knew KJ was a drug dealer. You knew he dealt coke. Did you know where you got his coke from? Did it ever occur to you that you were bringing back bags for a drug dealer?”

Ms Johnson said she did not know what the bags contained, and that she had not agreed to bring them to Bermuda.

Her trial before Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves continues on Monday.

Mary Johnson, 53, of Pembroke, is accused of conspiring to import $2.4 million of cannabis weighing 108 lbs between a date unknown and October 21, 2010. September 8,2011

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Published September 10, 2011 at 8:26 am (Updated September 10, 2011 at 8:26 am)

Woman in drugs trial feared she’d be shot

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