Second Customs officer in court for drugs smuggling

POSTED: 01/25/15 9:15 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance adjourned the trial of Customs officer Alexander Maximilliano Ernesto L. yesterday until February 25 to give the defense the opportunity to present documentation to substantiate the defendant’s medical condition. L. is a suspect in the January 30, 2014 transport of 268 kilos of cocaine into St. Maarten on an Insel Air flight from Curacao. Earlier this month, L.’s colleague Nestor Sanchez was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment for the same drugs transport.

The prosecution charges L. with the transport of 268 kilos of cocaine, membership of a criminal organization and possession of an alarm pistol.

The 39-year-old defendant denied all charges, including the possession of the gun. “It always was at the office of the Customs Department in Philipsburg,” he told the court. “When we moved furniture to the airport, the weapon went along, with the purpose to give it to the Coast Guard for safekeeping. I forgot about it.”

The weapon was in L.’s locker at the airport for at least a year he said.

The drug smuggling investigation started with a lead letter from the American Drug Enforcement Administration DEA. That resulted in heightened security at the Princess Juliana International Airport on January 30, 214. On that flight, investigators found ten boxes, containing 144 bags with a white powder that turned out to be cocaine. The total net weight of the drugs was 268 kilos and 145 grams.

The dossier contains phone taps showing contacts between Sanchez and Luciana in which they speak about “washing a car.” The investigators concluded that a clean car meant that the coast was clear for bringing the drugs into the country, and that a dirty car meant trouble.

  1. has been working for the Customs Department since 1996. After customs seized the drugs last year he has been on inactive duty whereby he only kept a part of his salary.

Yesterday’s hearing focused on the defendant’s health condition. His attorney Shaira Bommel said that he had specially flown back to St. Maarten from Santo Domingo for the court session. L. is in the Dominican Republic for medical treatment.

There are however no documents from the hospital to substantiate his condition or the need for his treatment. Documentation from local doctors only testify that L. has certain conditions.

Judge Maria Paulides decided to adjourn the hearing until February 25, to give the defense the opportunity to present documentation from the hospital in the Dominican Republic. Because this information is in the Spanish language, it has to be translated for the court to understand its contents. Judge Paulides agreed that the medical information is important for the consideration of the – in case of a guilty verdict – punishment for the defendant.

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