Crime — 21 February 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks

A Belize City man pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking when he was arraigned before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton, who fined him $10,000 and sentenced him to three years in prison. The court prosecutor, however, did not withdraw the charge against a woman, Clarissa Vasquez, who was charged in connection with the drug bust; instead, she was offered bail and her case adjourned.

After entering his guilty plea, Magistrate Hamilton told Reynard Grinage, 40, a mechanic and resident of Faber’s Road, “it’s mitigation time, now beg for mercy.”

Grinage told the court, “I want to say that everything that was in the house, this young lady (referring to Vasquez, 31, a resident of 51 Kelly Street and temporary employee of BEL, who was charged with him) has nothing to do with.”

“I humbly ask if you would be as lenient as possible with me, Your Honor,” Grinage pleaded, “I have a six-month-old child and it would be hard on her to have to grow up without me, Your Honor.”

Before imposing the sentence, Hamilton noted that Grinage did not have any previous conviction and that he did not profit from the trafficking of the cannabis.

According to the police’s facts of the case, which Grinage told the court that he agreed with, the Gang Suppression Unit detained him around 2:00 p.m. on Monday, February 17.

The GSU’s P.C. Leonard Augustine, after detaining Grinage and taking him to the Queen Street Police Station, found a house key in his possession. Augustine then obtained a search warrant to search for illegal drugs and police escorted Grinage to 5842 Bachelor Avenue.

In the presence of Grinage, P.C. Augustine used the key that he had found in Grinage’s possession to open the door. Inside the house, which is the upper flat of a wooden two-storey building, P.C. Augustine found a shoe box which contained two expired passports in the name of Reynard Grinage.

A further search inside a room, however, led to the discovery of two boxes, which police opened in Grinage’s presence.

Inside one of the boxes, P.C. Augustine found eight parcels wrapped in brown paper and two parcels wrapped in transparent plastic wrapping. He made a small cut on each of the parcels and discovered that each parcel contained a green leafy substance, with characteristics of cannabis, which he showed to Grinage.

When the second parcel was opened, it contained 18 parcels which were all wrapped in brown tape. In Grinage’s presence, all the parcels were cut and found to contain suspected cannabis. When the drug was weighed, it amounted to 24.4 kilos or 53 pounds of compressed, high grade cannabis, referred to in the streets as “hydro.”

Grinage was arrested, charged and advised of his constitutional rights.

In their report on the incident, police said that Vasquez is renting the house at Bachelor Avenue where the cannabis was stashed, so she was also charged with Grinage.

Clarissa Vasquez was granted bail of $5,000 plus one surety in the same amount or two sureties in the sum of $2,500 each. Her case was adjourned to April 17.

The street value of the “hydro” is reportedly in excess of $75,000.

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