Woman denies smuggling $700,000 worth of drugs
A mother accused of drug smuggling left luggage found to contain more that $700,000 worth of drugs at the airport, the Supreme Court heard yesterday.
Prosecutors alleged Ranae Furbert, 29, imported cannabis, cannabis resin and tetrahydrocannabinol into the island in January 2018 hidden in false bottoms in three suitcases.
The St George’s woman denied the offences, along with charges of possession of drugs with intent to supply.
Nicole Smith, the Crown counsel, said Ms Furbert left the island with her young son on a flight to Toronto on January 7, 2018 and returned four days later.
Ms Smith told the court: “Upon her return, three checked bags of luggage came with her, two in her name and one in her son’s name.
“Ms Furbert left the airport without receipt of those three checked bags.
“Subsequently these packages of luggage were examined by the police and they were found to contain concealed drugs.”
Ms Smith told the court a combination of cannabis, cannabis resin and shatter – a glasslike cannabis product – worth more than $700,000 was found inside.
She said: “It’s the Crown’s case that she either knew, suspected or had reason to suspect that she was in possession of the drugs.”
Tanaia Simmons, who worked at the airport at the time of the incident, said she had checked Ms Furbert and her young son in on a WestJet flight to Toronto.
Ms Simmons said she remembered Ms Furbert checked in a single bag for the flight and that she had made a comment about the defendant’s hair.
She added: “I commented about her hair style. It was braided and had red highlights and I told her I liked the way it was done.”
Ms Simmons also remembered that she and a colleague helped Ms Furbert’s son weigh himself on the luggage scale after she spotted him put his foot on it.
Several days later, on January 11, she was at work in the baggage collection hall after the arrival of a WestJet flight from Toronto.
Ms Simmons said that after all the passengers from the flight had left, three matching maroon suitcases had not been collected from the baggage carousel.
She said the luggage tags on two of the suitcases had Ms Furbert’s name and the third had the name of her son.
Ms Simmons said she took the bag to Customs officers and watched as the first bag, which she said appeared to be filled with clothes, was searched.
She added she tried lift the second bag on to a table to be searched, but it was too heavy for her.
Ms Simmons said after the officer looked through the contents, he emptied the case and began to check the lining.
The Customs officer alerted his supervisor and the empty suitcase was X-rayed.
Ms Simmons said she saw “blocks” appear on the machine’s screen as the scan started.
She told the court she was also present when they opened the third bag.
Ms Simmons said: “On top was a photograph of Ms Furbert and her son at an amusement park.
“I told my supervisor that I recognised the person in the picture.
“She had the same hair style with the red highlights and the braids as when she left.”
She said the suitcase that Ms Furbert checked in when she left the island, which was white-bottomed with a “tie-dye design”, was not among the ones left at the airport.
Charles Richardson, who appeared for Ms Furbert, questioned Ms Simmons’s description of the suitcase and said she had not described it in her police statement.
Mr Richardson also suggested the suitcase Ms Furbert left the island with was in poor condition.
Ms Simmons said she had not been asked about the bag by police, but she had to examine all checked bags for damage so the airline would not be held liable for causing the damage.
She added that she did not see any damage on the case.
A forensic examiner told the court that she had photographed the bags and their contents – including a total of 16 heat-sealed packages containing plant material.
She said the packages were behind a hard plastic barrier in the wall of the suitcase covered in “silver, foil-like paper”.
The forensics expert added several of the packages also contained sheets of a brown, waxlike substance.
She told the court that the silver paper was tested for finger prints, but none were identified.
The forensics expert added that several swabs were taken, but none were tested for DNA.
The witness told Mr Richardson that she could not say if the plastic barriers the drugs were hidden behind were a normal part of the suitcases or if the suitcases were “brand new”.
But she added they were all in good condition.
The trial continues.
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