Alpha Team investigation takes down criminal links, Court hands down verdicts

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – “NAOS”, an extensive investigation concerning international drugs and weapons trafficking conducted by the Alpha Team, under the leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office, has led to the severing of criminal links and the sentencing of six people involved locally.

In verdicts, handed down by the Court of First Instance in June and September 2021, six people were convicted for importing marijuana, participating in a criminal organization aimed at importing drugs and weapons, and money laundering. The sentences ranged from five years of imprisonment to four months conditional imprisonment and 120 hours of community service.

In determining the five-year sentence of the main defendant, the Court took into account the defendant’s leading role in the criminal organization and that over a long period he transported marijuana and traded in firearms. The Court was of the opinion that the seriousness of the trafficking in firearms, in particular, had to be expressed in the sentence.

In sentencing, the Court also took into account that the main defendant’s criminal activities extended over a long period and that these only came to an end after intervention by the police. Also, that the defendant was led by his own financial gain, and had no concern for the risks his actions entailed for society.

The Court considered that the defendant was not cooperative after his arrest, and has not taken responsibility for his actions in any way.

A total of 49,410 euros and US $35,500 was confiscated during searches of the suspects’ houses, as part of the investigation. The money will be wired to the “Criminaliteitsfond” (Crime Fund).

Some convicts worked at import or postal companies thus providing the criminal organization with vital information and aiding in securing the contraband. The investigation uncovered links to numerous other countries including Jamaica, Anguilla, the United States, Canada, and France. Cooperation with those countries were sought when required by the Alpha Team and OM SXM.

The court verdict cited that by participating in such a criminal organization, the suspects did not consider the social problems the trade in marijuana and firearms would inflict on the community. The societal harm overlooked by the suspects is the harm marihuana poses to public health and the feeling of insecurity and unsafe environment firearms create overall. Moreover, criminal organizations also have a disruptive effect on the rule of law.

The Alpha team, comprising the Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM, Koninklijke Marechaussee KMAR, Customs, and the Dutch Caribbean Coastguard, was vital in dismantling this criminal organization and in bringing the suspects to justice.

The Prosecutor’s Office commends the Alpha Team for its diligent work in the intricate “NAOS” investigation. The work of this team that specializes in cross-border control and investigations was crucial in the case presented to the Court. The team’s work has also ensured that the community of Sint Maarten is bit safer with the dismantling of this criminal organization and the halting of importation of marijuana and weapons via its channels.