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Drug-smuggling plot foiled after hollowed-out books seized

A plot to smuggle drugs into Bermuda was discovered after US customs found hollowed-out books that smelt of cannabis in a visitor’s suitcase.

Marley Watkins and Adanessa Infante — both US citizens — were jailed earlier this year for a conspiracy to import about 2lb of cannabis, but have since served their time and been deported.

Details of the plot were included in a Supreme Court judgment written by Puisne Judge Shade Subair-Williams and released this month.

The court heard that Infante flew into Bermuda on April 30 and, after passing through customs and immigration, went to The Reefs in Southampton, where she was escorted to her room in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.

That same day, Watkins attempted to visit Infante at the hotel but was refused permission to go to her room.

After he was unable to reach her by phone, a hotel worker went to her room on his behalf, where the worker was given a pink suitcase to give Watkins.

The next day, Infante attempted to leave the island on a flight to the US with the pink suitcase.

Inside the suitcase, US customs officers found four hardback books wrapped in plastic.

The judgment said: “US customs officers observed that a significant portion of the pages of those books was missing leaving behind a noticeable cavity and a detectable odour of cannabis and coffee.

“Infante’s handbag was also searched at US Customs and $3,500 in cash was discovered. That sum of money was found to be contained in three separate bundles secured by black elastic bands.”

Infante claimed she had brought the money to the island for her brief stay, and attempted to explain the smell of cannabis by saying that she had brought a small amount of the drug to the island for personal use.

Asked about Watkins, she said she knew a “Marl” in Bermuda, who was described as a friend she met in Brooklyn.

Police then searched Watkins’ home in Southampton, and he took officers to several plastic bags containing cannabis.

Police also found a number of vape cartridges with cannabinoid contents and $1,005 in cash that was wrapped the same way as the money found in Infante’s suitcase.

Watkins told police he had brought the cannabis to the island himself and had intended to use it to treat chronic pain.

He claimed that he had not personally met Infante before, but said a “client” had told him she was an online blogger and asked him to look after her.

Watkins said he had collected Infante’s suitcase with the intention of giving her some “spliffs” for her to enjoy while on holiday, but claimed he had a change of mind and returned the suitcase without giving her any cannabis.

But he said he returned to the hotel the following morning to leave a joint on her stoop before she was set to leave.

He added that he, however, returned the following morning to leave a rolled spliff/joint on her stoop before her departure.

However, as the police investigation continued, officers found a series of text messages and voice notes between Watkins and Infante.

Watkins then admitted that he had paid Infante $3,500 to bring the drugs into the island, but maintained it was for his personal consumption.

Magistrates’ Court determined that about 2lb of cannabis was brought to the island, which would carry a maximum street value of $102,400.

But the court came to the opinion that the drugs were not intended for commercial supply, only for personal medical use or recreational supply.

Watkins was sentenced to a custodial sentence of nine months, one third of which was suspended for two years, while Infante was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, half of which was suspended.

But Mrs Justice Subair-Williams increased both sentences on appeal.

She sentenced Watkins to two years’ imprisonment, eight months of which were suspended, while she sentenced Infante to 18 months behind bars.

However, because both had already served their original sentences and been deported, they would not be required to serve the additional time.