FRIDAY, JUNE 22: The $10 million worth of drugs and 200 rounds of ammunition seized when police smashed a massive smuggling operation were destined for one of Bermuda’s warring gangs.
A vast haul that included heroin, cocaine and cannabis was intercepted in the US after a major sting operation mounted by American and Bermudian authorities.
The operation focused on Victor Roberts who was jailed for 20 years at Supreme Court yesterday for his part in the plot to bring in the drugs and ammunition.
Roberts, 47, travelled to New Jersey last June where he bought and modified an industrial compressor so the stash could be hidden in a secret compartment.
He then made arrangements for the compressor to be shipped back to Bermuda.
But the unsuspecting smuggler had been under police surveillance from the moment he left the island.
Authorities discovered the haul at a warehouse in New Jersey and replaced the drugs and the bullets with ‘dummy’ packages.
Roberts was caught red-handed as he tried to retrieve the drugs and bullets from the compressor in the garden of his home on South Road in Warwick on July 20, last year.
Police sources told the Bermuda Sun the haul would have ended up with one the island’s gangs where it could have done huge damage.
An officer close to the investigation said: “We have no reason not to believe that the drugs and the bullets would have ended up with the gangs.
“We do not know which gang.
“But ammunition obviously goes with guns and guns go with ammunition; so to say we have stopped 200 rounds of ammunition reaching the gangs is a huge success.
“They could obviously have been used to cause serious injury and death.
Damage to community
“Furthermore the damage that these drugs could have caused in the community can not be underestimated.
“There is not only the social problems associated with drugs but the increase in other crimes that comes as a result of drug use such as burglaries and thefts.”
Police confirmed the investigation to track down the other members of the smuggling ring was still open.
Roberts said in interview that he did not know the identity of any of his co-conspirators and there was nothing to suggest he had any links with the criminal fraternity as he had no previous convictions.
He claimed he was contacted in New York and asked to bring back the drugs to Bermuda.
He told officers he picked up five duffle bags from a pre-arranged location and then hid the drugs, which he believed were cannabis, in the concealed compartment.
The police source added: “This investigation is still ongoing.
“We hope in the future to bring other people before the courts for their involvement where there is evidence to do so.
“We would still like to hear from anyone who has any information on this smuggling operation on 295 0011.”
Sentencing Roberts to 20 years in prison yesterday Puisne Judge Charles Etta Simmons said: “The community needs to be protected from someone who would turn a blind eye to the harm that drugs and ammunition can cause”
She said Roberts had played a ‘significant role’ in the plot and added: “One does not have to go far to see the damaging effect of drugs.
“Some lives are ruined, lives are lost and families torn apart.
“And we can not deny the effect firearms offences have had on our once gun-free community.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police David Mirfield said: “The contraband was intercepted as a result of the ongoing partnership between law enforcement and partner agencies here and in the U.S.
“The sentence of 20 years imprisonment should send a strong deterrent message to those engaged in the importation of drugs and firearms.”