(CMR) Suspended Customs Office, David Lobo (33), was found guilty today on Count 2 of being knowingly concerned with the importation of cocaine after the Grand Court jury deliberated for a day in his drug smuggling conspiracy case. However, they found him NOT guilty on count one of conspiracy to import cocaine – the more serious offense.
The jury came out briefly around 11:45 am and the judge advised them that they need to reach a unanimous verdict or a majority verdict; meaning 6-1 or 5-2, either way.
The six women and three men jury began hearing the case on December 10 with Justice Linda Dobbs presiding. Lobo was accused of conspiring with others to import cocaine into the Cayman Islands. It was alleged that he was involved in a drug smuggling operation in which two kilos of liquid cocaine was smuggled into Cayman via Cuba. A Colombian drug gang used several mules who swallowed over 60 pellets of condom-wrapped drugs and later expelled them at a Seven Mile Beach condo last year. They were found to be cooking the drugs back to solid form.
Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Patrick Moran, claimed that the Lobo was the client for the drug mules and overseas supplies. The Crown relied heavily on documentary evidence and several co-conspirators who testified against Lobo. WhatsApp messages, Western Union payment receipts and photos.
Two men plead guilty to their part in the conspiracy and then acted as Crown witnesses. However, Lobo’s attorney Amelia Fosuhene attempted to convince the jury that testimony was unreliable because they were benefiting from a reduced sentence deal with the DPP’s office. They testified that there was a previous successful operation in May 2017.
However, the second attempt the parties were apprehended by police at the condo on Friday, June 2 at 6:30 pm. Lobo, who was at the condo earlier was later arrested as he was driving in South Sound later. When he was pulled over officers searched the car and found more than US$13,000, several hundred Cayman dollars and money transfer receipts from cash sent to the smugglers before their arrival. He claimed that cash was to buy his girlfriend a vehicle.
Allan Taylor Dominguez (46) and Lesme Romualdo Perez Ruiz (51), believed to be the organisers of the conspiracy, as well as Jose Leonardo Parra Ferrini (32) and Yoandry Jose Morales Molina (22), the mules who swallowed the packages, have all been charged and pleaded guilty.
Dominguez and Ruiz testified against Lobo and stated that he was buying the cocaine for US$13,000.
Lobo has always claimed that he believed he was purchasing illegal Colombian gold statutes and artifacts and had no knowledge of a drug ring as alleged.
Lobo was found NOT guilty in another smuggling case back in August 2013. In that case Lobo was a serving Customs Officer at Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport when he was accused of ‘being concerned with the importation of cocaine’ in September 2010.
The case involved three other men and a kilo of cocaine that was hidden in Tortuga Rum cakes that left Owen Roberts Airport and arrived in Heathrow Airport on a British Airways flight.
Lobo was on duty when the cocaine rum cakes were delivered in the departure lounge to a passenger from the Customs strong room. Lobo told the court this was something he did 15-20 times a week to departing passengers. The jury was unanimous with that verdict that cleared Lobo.
He was remanded immediately to prison and his attorney's request for a bail extension was denied. He will be sentenced on February 27; along with Perez and Dominguez.