Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Court orders forfeiture of nearly $200M in assets linked to drug kingpin Deedo

Published:Monday | August 20, 2018 | 12:55 PM

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer 

The Supreme Court has ordered that nearly $200 million in assets and properties linked to drug kingpin Norris 'Deedo' Nembhard should be forfeited to the government, the Financial Investigation Division (FID) has confirmed.

According to the FID, the order was made last Friday after a legal fight with Nembhard over the properties.

A "great house" located in St Ann is among five developed and undeveloped properties that are to be turned over to the State.

The other assets include a Mercedes Benz and ten other motor vehicles.

"The great house in St Ann ... that one is extraordinary," a senior law-enforcement official told The Gleaner in 2015 making reference to the value of the property.

In 2015 the Supreme Court ordered that the properties should be restrained following an application by the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA), a division of the FID.

The following year the ARA obtained a default judgement for the forfeiture of the properties after Nembhard failed to file a defence, the FID said.

However, he subsequently filed an application asking the court to set aside the default judgement.

According to the FID, the court, in refusing the application, said Nembhard had provided no evidence to account for the five-year delay in challenging the application by the FID, which was first made in 2011. 

The court found, too, that the convicted drug kingpin did not show that he had a real prospect of successfully defending the claim, the FID said.

Nembhard was one of several Jamaicans designated as drug kingpins by then US President George Bush in 2004.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to narcotics charges along with compatriots Robroy Williams, Glenford Williams, Herbert Henry, and Vivian Daley.

Nembhard was sentenced to 13 years in prison by US District Judge Susan Buckley. 

He was released in 2015.

Court documents, including the plea agreements signed by the five Jamaicans and their Colombian co-accused Luis Miguel Avila Arias, indicated that the group used Jamaican waters as a trans-shipment point for cocaine moving from Colombia to the US.

The documents, which were cited in a statement released by then US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Robert O'Neil, indicated that Robroy Williams and Nembhard received "loads of cocaine transported via go-fast vessels from Colombia ranging from 600-1,200 kilograms".

"The loads of cocaine were received by Williams and others ... at various beach locations in Jamaica and stored at rural stash house locations for later distribution in Jamaica and eventually in the United States," the statement said.

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