Sentences stick for ganja smugglers

| 25/05/2021 | 19 Comments
Cayman News Service
Ganja packages recovered by the RCIPS on 12 March

(CNS): The Court of Appeal has upheld the sentences handed down last year to three Jamaican men who were caught in drug canoe attempting to smuggle over 670lbs of ganja into the Cayman Islands. All three men had admitted the charges but argued that the jail time they received was too long. Linton Nypole Pillarchie, who was convicted for the second time of smuggling ganja into Cayman, was given just over six years. Geranimo Antonio Vaughans and Jerry Barrows Cranston, who were both convicted for the first time, got 51 months each.

All three men claimed that they had not been given due credit for their guilty pleas and that the judge had made too much of aggravating factors while ignoring mitigating ones.

But the appeal court disagreed. In the ruling published just a few days ago following an appeal last month, the three judges said that Justice Cheryll Richards, the presiding judge, was not obligated to give the men the maximum 33% discount on their jail terms because of their admissions, especially given the fact that the men were caught virtually red-handed by the police some 30 miles off the coast of East End. As well as dumping the ganja into the ocean, they also threw their phones in the water to prevent those higher up the chain from being identified.

The court also noted that previous debates on how much credit a judge can give in these cases has been definitively settled in the latest sentencing guidelines.

“It enables, where the prosecution case is overwhelming, the judge, in the exercise of his or her discretion, to reduce the reduction for pleas of guilty from one third to a lesser amount, having regard to the facts of the particular case. As is characteristic of this learned judge, she carefully analysed the facts in this case, and explained why she restricted the discount to 20 percent. That is something she was perfectly entitled to do,” the appeal judges stated.

They also took a dim view of arguments advanced for the men by their attorney that insufficient account of the mitigating features was given while too much was made of the aggravating features of the case, in particular Pillarchie’s previous conviction for the same crime when he was caught trying to smuggle over 430lbs of ganja in 2017 into the Cayman Islands.

“We do not agree,” the judges stated in response to the lawyers position. “These were matters entirely within the discretion of the judge. We have no doubt that the similar previous convictions of Linton Pillarchie were a significantly aggravating feature,” the appeal court found as it upheld all three sentences.

Pillarchie had been sentenced to more than three years for that offence and so had been released in 2019, but he was back in Cayman waters within a year with a significant haul of ganja. At the time of his arrest on this second occasion, Pillarchie said he knew that what he was doing was wrong, but things were hard in Jamaica. He was paid 100,000 Jamaican dollars (appx CI$559) and had been expecting another $300,000 on his return.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s almost like some higher ups with CIG connections get a cut so they’d rather keep it illegal over pushing for legalization.

    • D. Truth says:

      It doesn’t matter if the “higher ups” get a cut or not. Drugs…. including ganja, are like cancer. They will eventually ruin your life. I know. I’ve been there! The only ones it helps are the sellers, NOT the users. Users ar losers!

      • Anonymous says:

        Let’s also ban soda, candies and fast food while we’re trying to dictate how adults live their lives na?

  2. Weedkiller says:

    So did they plan to apply for permanent residence and spend the next 10 years selling it on the street?. Why are we not going after the local druglords who employ these carriers?. The law should provide for a substantial reduction in sentence if they provide information leading to the conviction of the criminals who control drugs in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Law better provide for a witness protection scheme as well. Out in 3 years after Caymans 50% rule for good behaviour versus a one way trip to the morgue – pretty easy math. Oh, and substantial cash rewards as well. 670 lbs of Ganga is worth more than a million bucks – for a single load. How much do you think it would cost to buy the silence of a man prepared to risk the trip for $750US?

      • Anonymous says:

        The solution is to provide for witness protection as well as much longer (20+ year) sentences for those convicted. No early release for certain crimes including trafficking if those convicted do not turn in those above. In addition provide large secret cash rewards for turning in the higher ups. Cash rewards would be cheaper than helicopters, more effective and that way the odds would be shifted in favour of the public rather than the criminals.

        • Anonymous says:

          Minimum wage over there is like $200 USD a month

          20 year sentences that we’ll be stuck paying for, while the expendables are readily replaced to add to the prison count.

          You are literally suggesting throwing more money at a failing war against a medically prescribed plant.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know CNS hates caps, but LMAOOOOO “Weedkiller” thinks it takes 10 years to sell a couple hundred lbs here. More like a week.

      “Why are we not going after the local druglords who employ these carriers?”

      Why do we allow wealthy developers to do whatever TF they want here?

      Money rules everything here. Besides, the people on the top of the chain create the laws to keep it illegal and highly profitable / lucrative.

      • Anonymous says:

        On a previous post regarding the resignation of the Director of Public Prosecution. Someone commented that Caymanians cannot be in a position to prosecute because there would be no impartiality. Well, let me burst your bubble. Most drug dealers here in Cayman are ex-pats and mainly Jamaican. Most police in the RCIPS are mostly expat, mainly Jamaican. You ever wonder why you see Caymanians getting busted for smoking or possession of small amounts. The Jamaican Police here look out for the Jamaican drug dealer who is at the top of the chain. Most of the big shipments that come in are organised by the Jamaican drug dealers. Those who don’t know, do not want to.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great, thanks for taking all the ganja, now what am I supposed to smoke? LEGALIZE IT! – Peter Tosh

    • Anonymous says:

      You can still get lbs delivered to your door if you know the right people here. Last time GCM went into a real drought was probably at the height of covid last year.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “.. he knew that what he was doing was wrong, but things were hard in Jamaica. He was paid 100,000 Jamaican dollars (appx CI$559)”

    1 lb is purchased for about $50 usd and flipped here for $1000 CI. Hundreds of lbs are transported at once.

    These smugglers are literally expendable, and there could be 20 busts yet it would still be a profitable venture for those higher up the chain. It’s time to regulate this like tobacco and put it behind a counter to kill the incentive to smuggle. It’s only lucrative because it’s illegal.

  5. Anonymous says:


  6. Anonymous says:

    Legalize it and the drug dealers won’t come here. Also, it’s a plant.

    • Anonymous says:

      Legalize it and you’ll have even fewer people show up for work, or even bother to get out of bed.
      We all know people whose brains have been addled by ganja…we’ll just be adding to that number.

      • Anonymous says:

        Me thinks, more people out of bed and your tiny reality. Why? because they wont have to hide and smoke, or smoke and stay in bed lol, as you say.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The original sentence was far to lenient IMHO, particularly for a repeat offender importing such a massive amount of drugs. 20 years sounds about right to me particularly given that people only ever serve a tiny fraction of the sentence given.

    If the prosecutors took the time to also request the court to recommend that all foreign criminals are banned from Cayman then repeat offenders that make it to our shores could be given harsher sentences. But that would require the DPP’s office to remember to do it.

    • Anonymous says:

      If we applied Singapore law on smuggling commercial quantities we certainly wouldn’t have a repeat offender problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then Caymanians would just up local production to meet the demand. Simple economics.. you think if tobacco became illegal overnight everyone would stop smoking? Use some sense.

        Singapore law? Buddeh, this Cayman.. you gine execute local farmers like myself for growing a plant that is currently medically prescribed?

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