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Drugs were hidden inside cargo pallet, jury hears

A truck driver was caught for his role in a cannabis importation plot after taking a pallet the drugs arrived in from the airport without permission, a prosecutor alleged.

James Walker, 51, is accused of plotting with others who are not before the courts to import $45,450 worth of drugs on a cargo jet that arrived in Bermuda on May 12, 2010.

His Supreme Court trial began yesterday morning, with Crown counsel Takiyah Burgess telling a jury that the cannabis arrived in a consignment attached to a blue wooden pallet.

The rest of the packages on the pallet were unloaded at the airport leaving only one, which contained 20 boxes of dinnerware, explained Ms Burgess.

It came from Walmart in Orlando and was addressed to Nicholas Minors at a Dolly’s Bay Lane address in St David’s.

Ms Burgess said when Customs officers examined the consignment they noticed the wooden pallet smelled strongly of fresh paint. They X-rayed it and noticed the footing contained nine white plastic pipes. The pipes were removed and opened and found to contain more than 1.5kg of cannabis with a street value of $45,450.

The prosecutor explained that the drugs were seized by the authorities and the pallet was reassembled, with the dinnerware put back inside. It was put back in circulation and the following day, Mr Walker arrived at the airport to pick up the consignment. According to Ms Burgess, he asked the freight manager for the pallet as well as the dinnerware. The freight manager told him he could not have it because they were short of pallets.

The prosecutor told the jury that when the manager turned his back to deal with another customer, Mr Walker picked up the boxes of dinnerware and the pallet and drove away with them on his truck, despite having been told not to take the pallet.

She said Mr Walker then drove to St George’s where he was stopped, and his truck was searched. The consignment in the name of Nicholas Minors was seized, along with the dinnerware, but the wooden pallet was no longer there.

When he was asked about the pallet, he gave no explanation.

“The pallet was later found hidden in some trees in St George’s,” said Ms Burgess. Mr Walker explained to police when interviewed that Nicholas Minors told him to pick up the goods.

However, she said, Nicholas Minors is a “fictitious name” and “there is nobody by that name that existed”.

A number of police and Customs officers are due to be called as witnesses in the trial, which is scheduled to last around a week.

Mr Walker, who is represented by defence lawyer Craig Attridge, denies conspiring to import cannabis and the case continues.

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Published March 20, 2012 at 10:03 am (Updated March 20, 2012 at 10:03 am)

Drugs were hidden inside cargo pallet, jury hears

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