$1.5m bail for trucker on $4.5m drug charge

San Fernando Magistrate Alexander Prince (with glasses) together with attorneys and police Prosecutor Sgt Wendell Fernando view 291.7 kilos of marijuana which is a court exhibit. Trincity resident Richard Chan appeared in court charged with marijuana possession for the purpose of trafficking.

A Trincity father of two has been granted $1.5 million bail after he appeared in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court in connection with the $4.5 million marijuana bust in Williamsville last week.

Yesterday, Richard Chan, 42, a truck driver, appeared before San Fernando Second Court Magistrate Alexander Prince. He was represented by attorneys Jagdeo Singh and Michael Rooplal. He was charged with having marijuana in his possession for the purpose of trafficking on April 15, 2010, at American Flats, Williamsville. Chan was also charged with knowingly removing a container from Queen’s Wharf, Port-of-Spain, containing prohibited goods, namely 16 packets of marijuana totalling 291.7 kilogrammes on April 15, 2010. Customs Officer Lawrence Sheppard laid the customs charge. Both charges were laid indictable. Chan was not called upon to plea.

The matter was called around 11.45 am and Prince, together with prosecutor Sgt Wendell Fernando, attorneys and court staff, went to a parked unmarked police vehicle outside the San Fernando court to view the packaged drugs. The event caused a stir as onlookers gathered outside the court to see what was happening. Court Street was blocked at both ends and the walkway alongside the courthouse was cordoned off with police caution tape for the viewing of the drugs. When the magistrate returned to court, Singh made an application for Chan to be granted bail. Singh said the truck and trailer Chan was driving when arrested belonged to his employer.

“This is a matter of importation and he is not the importer. The items (in the container) were not consigned to him,” Singh argued. Chan, he said, was the sole breadwinner in the family and this was his first offence. Prince asked for the estimated value of the drugs, Fernando said it was $4.5 million. Singh protested the estimate, stating newspaper reports suggested a $1.5 million value for the drugs. The magistrate then placed Chan on $1.5 million bail to be approved by the Clerk of the Peace. He ordered that Chan’s relatives surrender the man’s passport before his next court appearance on April 26.

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