Smugglers swallowed over 60 drug pellets

| 11/12/2018 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

David Lobo

(CNS): A jury heard Tuesday how two drug mules involved in a conspiracy to bring uncut liquid cocaine from Colombia into Cayman last year swallowed more than sixty pellets, wrapped in condoms, to get the contraband past the authorities. As the prosecution finished presenting the opening of its case against customs officer David Lobo, the court heard that four of the co-defendants involved in this drug trafficking ring have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing after incriminating messages and images on phones that were seized by police sealed the men’s fate.

Allan Taylor Dominguez (46) and Lesme Romualdo Perez Ruiz (51), believed to be the organisers of the conspiracy, as well as Jose Leonardo Parra Ferrini (32) and Yoandry Jose Morales Molina (22), the mules who swallowed the packages, have all been charged with drug-related offences in connection with a narcotics conspiracy that involved Lobo (33), who Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran said was the smugglers’ client.

Lobo is linked to the convicted men via a catalog of WhatsApp messages and other communication that appear to all relate to two separate drug smuggling operations that took place in May and June of last year. Lobo engaged in multiple communications, largely with Dominguez and sometimes Ruiz, over a period of several months in 2017 before he was arrested following an intelligence-led bust at a Seven Mile Beach condo on 2 June.

The senior prosecutor also showed photos to the jury taken on Ruiz’ phone which showed him standing by a stove working on the liquid cocaine and turning it into powder, which he had sent to his girlfriend, leaving little doubt about Ruiz’ involvement in the drug ring.

Moran drew the jury’s attention to a record of communication that showed Lobo organising flights and hotel rooms, shopping for supplies, including those needed to help the drug mules expel the narcotics and equipment needed to transform the liquid into powder, as well as sending money from Western Union at Foster’s West Bay to the dealers, who were based in South America before they arrived.

After the gang members were arrested, their phones seized and the handsets interrogated, police were able to piece together a sophisticated conspiracy. It appeared to start early in 2017, ahead of the first smuggling operation in May 2017, in which two mules successfully brought at least one kilo of cocaine into Cayman.

Prosecutors say the drug haul ended up in the hands of David Lobo, who paid US$13,000 for it. The couple who brought in the drugs had posed as tourists attending a wedding and were able to deliver the illicit drugs and leave the jurisdiction undetected.

However the second operation was not as successful.

The two mules on the second trip, Ferrini and Morales, travelled to Cayman via Panama and Cuba, along with organiser Ruiz, and managed to get through the relevant airports and make it safely to their condo. Over the next day the men expelled the pellets and cooked most of the cocaine back to powder.

But just as the last batch was sizzling on the stove on Friday, 2 June, at around 6:30pm, the police knocked on the door of the Seven Mile Beach condo and rounded up the gang.

Lobo, who had been seen at the same apartment earlier that evening, was not there when the bust went down but he was arrested separately as he was driving in South Sound. After he was pulled over by police, the officers searched the car and found more than US$13,000, several hundred Cayman dollars and money transfer receipts from cash sent to the smugglers before their arrival.

Before the police interrogated Lobo’s two phones, which were seized after his arrest, or the phones taken from the rest of the gang, Lobo denied any involvement in drug dealing and said that as a customs officer he was sworn to uphold the law.

He admitted knowing and being friends with Dominguez and said he had met Ruiz on one previous occasion when he had visited Cayman. But he said his only connection to the men was through a legitimate business dealing in Colombian artifacts. He said the cash that was seized by the police was not for drugs but to buy his girlfriend a car.

In a second interview with police after his phone was analysed, Lobo said that he had helped with Ruiz’ visit as a favour to Dominguez and the money he had sent to the smugglers was also as a favour for his friend, but he knew nothing at all about their drug smuggling ring.

The case continues.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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