MARIGOT–Five men were arrested and charged in St. Martin after the discovery of a number of cannabis farms and a sizeable drug trafficking network.
The initial investigation started in May 2012, when a survey of the French side of the island was conducted by the helicopter branch of the St. Martin Coast Guard and St. Martin Customs officers. Several sites in Concordia and Agrément where cultivation of cannabis was taking place were identified during the survey.
The prosecutor instigated an investigation, whereupon the St. Martin Criminal Investigation Department made a second survey of the area with the support of the air section of the Gendarmerie of Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe and located three production sites on top of a hill in Concordia.
The sites were located amongst dense vegetation and were difficult to access. They were equipped with a generator for the operation of hydroponics and a system for recovering rainwater which, after chemical treatment, was used to irrigate the plants. In total, more than 2,000 cannabis plants were discovered.
After the investigation using surveillance, the Gendarmerie identified several individuals responsible for maintaining and growing the plants who also were involved in a sales network for herbal cannabis. The largest site was estimated to have contained about 1,700 cannabis plants and to have produced 50kg of herbal cannabis since December 2012.
An operation conducted jointly by different departments of the St. Martin police on Tuesday, October 15, led to the arrest of five individuals and destruction of the facilities. Some 305 cannabis plants were found during searches of the suspects’ homes, as well as a drying cabinet with ultraviolet lamps and integrated ventilation, cannabis seeds, fertiliser, account books and a .22 calibre rifle.
The main suspect appeared in front of the prosecutor and was charged and remanded to prison in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, pending his trial. Three others were released and received summonses to attend Court on December 6. The last individual was placed under judicial control.