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JAMAICA | Four Jamaican fishermen back home after US ordeal

Featured JAMAICA | Four Jamaican fishermen back home after US ordeal
KINGSTON, Jamaica December 31, 2020 - The four Jamaican fishermen who suffered at the hands of the United States Coast Guard and  detained by United States immigration despite being cleared by a Florida court of drug charges have returned home to Jamaica.

Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels who represents the four, announced the news this afternoon by way of his Twitter feed, with a photo of the four.

They are boat captain Anthony Clarke, Radcliffe Simmons, Howard Patterson, and Warren Rowe who returned to Jamaica shortly after midday.

On Monday Samuels in a press conference demanded the release of the four men who were were on their way to Venezuela to buy fish, were intercepted and arrested by the US Coast Guard in Jamaican waters about 100 miles south of Port Royal.

According to court documents, on October 12, 2020, while on routine patrol, US Coast Guard cutter Diligence sighted the Lady Lawla and when they boarded the 23 metre Jamaican registered fishing vessel, they discovered 150 gallons of liquid cocaine which was subsequently destroyed by the coast guard.

The affidavit  further stated that Lady Lawla was not broadcasting its automatic identification system and that it was then that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) was notified and that they affirmed the boat’s registry and authorised boarding under flag state jurisdiction.

The court document mentioned that the US Coast Guard “requested to destroy the vessel as a danger to navigation” and that the JDF authorised the Diligence to destroy the vessel. It was destroyed within two days.

The court however, found no evidence of cocaine. The crew were detained for 17 days between October 11, 2020, and December 23, 2020, on the alleged basis of having found 150 gallons of liquid cocaine.

The US federal marshal brought the men before Judge Chris McAliley of the Southern District of Florida District Court who “ruled to terminate the detention of all four Jamaicans on the basis that there was in fact no evidence of a find of cocaine and that it was merely gasoline which had been misidentified as the drug in liquid form and ordered that they be sent home to Jamaica,” said Samuels. “No charges were laid against any of the four men.”

“These are Jamaicans who left Jamaica declaring their port of destination and armed with their passports, which were examined by Jamaican immigration. These passports were taken from them by the US Coast Guard. We now demand that, through our foreign ministry, the passports of these four Jamaicans be returned to them to facilitate their departure from the United States, back home, by way of an ordinary international flight,” Samuels told the media on Monday.

He said there were questions which needed to be answered such as the position of the Jamaican government “based on the false premise on which the Jamaican nationals were detained, whilst located 100 miles south of Port Royal, and unlawfully brought into the US and the vessel destroyed.”

 He also wanted to know whether there will be an apology to the owner of the boat, his crew members and their family,  as well as compensation for the loss of the vessel and its earning capacity, without their clients having to go through the expense of filing.

US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia yesterday admitted that the entire incident was embarrassing and said efforts were being made to get the men on a flight and have them home as soon as possible.

Last modified onSaturday, 02 January 2021 20:38
  • Countries: Jamaica
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