After some three months of investigations, police have made a breakthrough into the January 22, 2022 cocaine seizure at the Owia Health Clinic.
On Tuesday, police arrested and charged Lucresha Nanton, 34-year-old Staff Nurse of Owia, in connection with the matter.
Nanton has been charged with possession of 59,939 grams (54 kilos) of cocaine with intent to supply. She is also charged with possession of the drug for the purpose of drug trafficking.
The drugs are said to have a wholesale value of over $1 million, and a street value of over $4 million.
Nanton pleaded not guilty to both charges when she appeared before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne at the Serious Offences Court on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Renrick Cato did not object to bail, but indicated that bail should reflect the value of the drugs.
Cato said that the drugs weighed 54 kilos and the value of one kilo of cocaine, wholesale, is $30,000 which means that the total value of the drugs, with which Nanton is charged, would amount to $1,620,000 wholesale.
But attorney Ronald Marks, who is representing Nanton, rebutted that while he agreed that bail should reflect the value, it should not do so directly. He pointed out that not because the value of the drug amounted to over $1 million, bail should be set directly in relation to that sum, which would make it equivalent to a denial of bail.
Marks suggested that bail could be granted with certain conditions attached.
The Chief Magistrate agreed, and set bail in the sum of $200,000 with two sureties on condition that Nanton surrender her travel documents and report to the Owia Police Station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Stop notices would be placed at all ports of entry and exit, and she is not to leave the state without the permission of the Serious Offences Court or the High Court. Her next Court date is on June 20.
The charges against Nanton stemmed from a joint action between the Narcotics Unit and the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) around 6 p.m. on January 22, 2022. Corporal Lafleur Williams of the RRU led the investigations.
The charges came about three months after Rodney Thomas, 33-year-old sailor of Owia, was fined a total of $64,000 on charges of cocaine possession, and cocaine trafficking, stemming from a police raid at his home in Owia, just hours before the raid on the Owia Health Clinic.
Thomas was fined $34,000 to be paid by August 31, or go to prison for one year for possession of 3,623 grams (3.6 kilos) of cocaine for the purpose of drug trafficking. He was also fined $30,000 for possession of the drug with intent to supply. He was ordered to pay $10,000 of that forthwith with an alternative of 6 months in prison, and the balance by May 2, or 11 months behind bars.
Police acting on information received, found the cocaine in a knapsack concealed in a barrel in a room at Thomas’ home at Owia, during a raid around 5:30 a.m. on January 22, 2022.
Thomas had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but changed his pleas to guilty on his return to the Serious Offences Court on January 27, 2022. He was represented by attorney Grant Connell.