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Trial starts for Customs officer charged with drug conspiracy

A customs officer accused of conspiring to import drugs was allegedly tasked with intercepting packages containing cannabis, addressed to unknowing members of the public.

Bromwin Thompson, 41, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiring with Shannon Berkeley to import cannabis resin, one count of possessing cannabis with intent to supply, and one count of corruption.

At the time of the importation, Mr Thompson was working as a customs officer at the Fed Ex facility on Serpentine Road.

Opening the trial in Supreme Court yesterday, Crown counsel Nicole Smith said on May 20, 2009, a package arrived at the Fed Ex facility to be processed.

Mr Thompson allegedly said he inspected the package and cleared it, but when a superior officer was told the package had been targeted, the defendant was instructed to inspect the package again

“When he x-rayed that package it was positive for a quantity of cannabis resin,” Ms Smith said. “Another package containing cannabis resin also came into the Island on June 4.

“Mr Thompson knew that the packages of May 20 and June 4 contained cannabis resin because the Crown has text messages from Shannon Berkeley to Mr Thompson with the names and addresses of the recipients in Bermuda.

“It turns out that these were names of real residents, but they didn't know or expect packages to be coming from abroad. He not only knew what was in those packages, but that his role in the conspiracy was that of a look out in that he was to intercept those packages.”

The jury heard that while other couriers processed their packages at a site at the LF Wade International Airport, Fed Ex packages are processed by customs officers at the Fed Ex building.

Customs officers at the Airport are tasked with opening the can of packages when they arrive on a cargo jet, overseeing the packages as they are transferred to the Fed Ex truck, and then locking and sealing the truck, with only the assigned officer at the airport having access to the keys and the seals.

Officers assigned to the Fex Ex building are then supposed to check the seal before processing. The first witness, Senior Customs Officer Chyann Trott, told the court that on April 17, 2009, she was leaving her office at the airport courier facility when she saw Mr Thompson.

She said it was unusual to see a customs officer assigned to Fed Ex at the airport facility, but that Mr Thompson told her he was just in the area and wanted to say hello.

However another customs officer, Owen Millett, told defence lawyer Charles Richardson that it was not unusual to see Fed Ex assigned officers at the airport.

Mr Millett testified that he was working on April 17 when he was approached by Mr Thompson, who was wearing a customs uniform at the time. “I was processing the packages when Mr Thompson came to me and asked for some keys,” he said. “I told him where the keys were located and I then informed him who was responsible for the keys.”

Asked what keys he was referring to, he said he was referring to the keys for the Fed Ex truck.

Principal Customs Officer Kelly Trott told the court that in April of 2009 she become aware of an increase in the number of seizures of drugs related to the Fed Ex courier facility, leading to changes of policy. She said she was on duty at the airport on June 16, 2009 and spoke with Mr Thompson about a breach of the new policies.

“He had arrived at the airport courier facility in a Fed Ex vehicle and this was in contradiction of the policies that had been implemented,” she said.

The Supreme Court trial is expected to continue today.

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Published March 31, 2011 at 10:15 am (Updated March 31, 2011 at 10:14 am)

Trial starts for Customs officer charged with drug conspiracy

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