Venezuelans Sentenced

Sherine Williams, Journalist | December 11, 2017 4:44 am MST
Andri Zacarias and Jose Rosquel
Photo Credit: Sherine Williams/BVI Platinum News
Three Venezuelan natives, who were charged in relation to an illegal firearm and other immigration-related offences, were sentenced when they appeared before Magistrate Ayana Dabreo on Friday, December 8.

Andri Zacarias, Jose Rosquel and Arolde Marin were arrested at an apartment in Cox Heath on August 28, after they were discovered by immigration officers.

A number of electronics, a large sum of undeclared cash and an unlicensed firearm were also seized by the authorities.

The immigration officers also found that the men had overstayed in the BVI.

Arolde Marin, who had pleaded guilty to the firearm charge, was sentenced to five years for keeping a firearm without a license and four months for unlawful possession of explosives. He will serve these sentences at the same time.

Marin was also fined $1,000 or two months in prison for overstaying in the BVI.

Jose Rosquel, who had pleaded guilty to illegal entry in the BVI, was fined $10,000 and 3 months in prison.

Rosquel had also admitted that the largest amount of cash found in the apartment belonged to him, and was fined $10,000 or 6 months in prison for not declaring the cash to customs.

The third accused, Andri Zacarias, was fined $1,000 or two months in prison for overstaying in the BVI. Magistrate Dabreo gave him a sentence of time served since he was remanded for a while before sentencing. However, since he is already illegal in the Territory, Zacarias was committed to the custody of immigration officials.

Attorney Begged For Men

All three men were represented by Attorney Leroy Jones. Before the sentences were handed down, he begged for the men to be fined instead of being given custodial sentences.

He said the fines could go towards the rebuilding efforts of the BVI, adding that the men had displayed good behaviour when they turned themselves over to authorities instead of escaping when the prison was destroyed in the storm.

He also added that it made more sense to fine the men and send them back to Venezuela instead of keeping them in the BVI’s prison, where they were gaining weight every day.

Magistrate Dabreo admitted that one of the accused men did gain weight since she the last time she saw him. However, she said she couldn’t just impose fines, as it was not her job to secure money for the BVI’s rebuilding efforts.

She also said the charges against the men were too serious for her not to consider even the minimum custodial sentences for those charges.

History of Case

The three men were arrested on August 28 after immigration officers carried out searches at an apartment complex they were living in Cox Heath, Tortola.

The officers said they first met Arolde Marin and Andri Zacarias, who were asked to show their passports. When the men handed over their documents, the officials observed that they had overstayed their landing permit.

The immigration officers then proceeded to search the apartment where they found several cellphones and other electronics, which Marin said belonged to him, adding that he was taking them back to Venezuela where he planned to sell them.

The immigration officers later discovered Rosquel under a bed in the apartment.

Police were called to the scene and shown a firearm inside a toilet tank. A bag with US currency was discovered inside another toilet tank in the dwelling.

The police lifted evidence from the scene and seized a the cash and electronics that the men had.

Men Arrested and Charged

The men were arrested, interviewed and willingly allowed their fingerprints to be taken. A positive match was made with Marin’s fingerprints and the ones lifted from the toilet bowl where the gun was found.

When police made checks, it was found that the firearm did not legally belong to any of the men. Police also discovered 7 rounds of ammunition among evidence materials collected from the apartment.

Marin was charged in relation to the illegal firearm, the ammunition and for overstaying in the BVI.

The largest sum of cash found inside the apartment amounted to US $50,015, which Rosquel later told police he got from lands sold in Venezuela. He said the money was sent to him in St. Lucia before he illegally arrived in the BVI.

He was charged for overstaying and for the large sum money which he did not declare to customs.

Meanwhile, Zacarias, who had peaded not guilty to the gun charge, was only charged for overstaying.
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