Phone calls and messages detailed in drug trial

| 29/10/2017

(CNS): The crown’s first witness in its drug conspiracy trial, a police expert on communications data, identified 50 different customers and more than 400 chats that Patrick Moran, the deputy director of public prosecutions said “may be linked to drugs”. Before calling the witness, Moran continued his opening statement from Thursday, in which he read out to the jury pages from phone records covering about 40 individual episodes of what he said were drug dealings. As he referred to each alleged customer by the name, which was saved in convicted drug dealer Alex Ebanks’ contact list as they messaged him their requests, he gave the crown’s account of what the communications meant. He told the jury, “It’s important you understand the calls.”

On trial are Uzel Dixon, Carlos Myles and Ian Duncan, who are charged with conspiracy to supply ganja and cocaine; none of the men was found in possession of drugs but they were identified through Ebanks’ phone records.

During his statement on Friday, Moran detailed some of the “thousands of messages” between Ebanks and people he said were customers, as well as calls between Ebanks and Dixon that he said showed patterns that “clearly indicate (Dixon) was tasked with supplying drugs and collecting money on behalf of Alex Ebanks”.

The back and forth messages touched on monetary amounts as well as times and places for the alleged transactions. Interspersed with messages were phone calls between Dixon and Ebanks. Moran noted to the jury the times of each to show a correlation between message and subsequent phone call, which occurred within seconds of each other. The crown said these indicated that Ebanks and Dixon were discussing details of the transactions, such as delivery addresses and money to be collected.

In some instances the messages specified needing “fifty” or “seventy-five” or “a bag”. One person messaged Ebanks, “Hey, can I get another half gram?” Some messages referred directly to drugs and cocaine, with others discussing getting credit or when payment might take place.

The names attached to the messages come up repeatedly over different days and were chronicled during the months preceding Ebanks’ arrest 22 October 2015.

After reading out from more than 15 separate exchanges, Moran said to the jury, “I hope you have seen the patterns.” He acknowledged the pattern wasn’t established in every single item and that there wasn’t always a call between Ebanks and Dixon after an order was placed, but he said that if the two men were together at Lakeside, where the dealer was eventually arrested and cocaine recovered, there was no need for Ebanks to call. Moran told the jury that Dixon collected the drugs from that apartment and then delivered the drugs and got the cash.

Moran also noted that it wasn’t always clear if a drug deal went down as intended, but that when dealing with drug dealers, things may not go as planned. However, he told the jury, “I hope you have a flavour for what was going on.”

After his opening, Moran called his first witness, communications data expert Joanne Delaney, who has more than 14 years experience in the field and has been with the RCIPS for a decade.

She explain about how police were able to identify two phones used by Ebanks, both in Cayman and when he was in Jamaica, as he carried on communications with Dixon. Ebanks was in possession of his Cayman phone when he was arrested and police found the other phone when they searched his home.

Delaney said that police found “a vast amount of data” on Ebanks’ principal phone, dating from July 2015 to October 2015. She also confirmed that the data she analysed — WhatsApp chats, photos, videos, audio files, messages and contacts — led her to suspect the evidence had something to do with drugs. She said she had identified more than 50 different customers and 400 separate chats that could be linked to drugs.

The trial continues Monday, when Moran will call an expert witness from the US, who will testify by video link, after which he will continue his questioning of Delaney.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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