BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 15, 2019– Attorney Andrew Bennett, for whom the United States has issued an extradition request after a US grand jury unsealed a multi-count indictment in the US territory of Puerto Rico, appeared in the #1Magistrate’s Court of Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser, along with his attorney, Anthony Sylvestre, this morning.
Sylvestre indicated to the court that he was ready for trial; however, since the Crown assigned a new prosecutor, Crown Counsel Samantha Matute-Tucker from the Solicitor General’s office, Chief Magistrate Fraser agreed to adjourn the case to April 30 in order to allow the parties to reacquaint themselves with the details of the case.
The United States issued an arrest warrant for Bennett from the District of Puerto Rico in July 2015. Bennett is wanted by the US on a seven-count indictment for money laundering.
According to the US indictment, a confidential informant told the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that high level bankers and political figures in Belize were involved in money laundering operations for drug trafficking organizations through international banks that are based in Belize.
Bennett, according to court papers filed by the US, met with a US undercover agent and allegedly agreed to launder money for a Puerto Rican drug trafficking organization.
The US undercover agent claims that he took US $250,000 in a backpack to a meeting with Bennett at the Riverside Tavern.
The agent handed over the money to Bennett, who was under surveillance by the Belize Police’s Anti-Drug Unit. Bennett allegedly told the undercover agent that he would use Slingshot Signs as the business through which he would launder the drug proceeds.
Bennett allegedly took the knapsack of money into Slingshot Signs and came out along with his driver,without the money.
Bennett, according to the US agent, allegedly wired the money given to him by the agent to accounts in New York, Puerto Rico and Atlanta.
Bennett, who has been released on bail, continues to maintain his innocence of the US charges.
Last month, two Bahamian nationals, businessmen Kelvin Leach and Rhon Knowles, were discharged from extradition proceedings by the Belize Court of Appeal after the court found that the United States Government had obtained electronic evidence in contravention of Belize laws.