Barbadians arrested, released in Florida drug case

By Barbados Today

Dyson Benskin (left) and Calvin Brathwaite.

(BARBADOS TODAY) — Two men, arrested on Saturday in connection with a major drug bust at a Florida hotel have returned to Barbados without facing criminal liability.

Calvin Brathwaite, 34, and Dyson Benskin, 33, were arrested at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Dania Beach in Broward County, 37 kilometres north of Miami, after sheriff’s deputies found sealed bags of marijuana in their hotel room, according to media reports.

A member of the hotel’s housekeeping staff smelled a strong odour of marijuana coming from the room and an employee notified management, who entered the room and found a large quantity of marijuana in bags on the floor and on a table and subsequently called the Broward County Sheriff, the reports said.

As the deputies were awaiting a search warrant Brathwaite and Benskin returned to the hotel and were later taken into custody.

But there are conflicting reports, as Brathwaite’s attorney, Ralph Thorne QC , differs from an affidavit issued by the Sheriff’s Department.

First, Thorne noted that it was a case of coincidence and an error made in the arrest of the two Barbadian men. But the affidavit states that the men admitted to receiving a phone call in which they received instructions for them to pick up the contraband.

In response, Thorne said: “I have spoken to both young men who have given me the authority to issue a public statement to say that they are back in Barbados. They arrived back in Barbados on Tuesday and they suffered a bit of detention while investigations transpired in the United States. They have not been charged with any offense and as far as we are aware they have been released without any conditions. That is the status at present,” Thorne said, suggesting that it was a mere case of coincidence.

“I know you would be curious as to what else has transpired, and I should tell you that in all fairness that they happened to be in a room adjoining another room in which the contraband was located. It is really a terrible coincidence and a terrible error if one wants to put it as that. The error being that they were detained because they happened to be in a room next door to a room that contained cannabis, I believe. My information is that other persons were detained they don’t know what has happened to those persons.

“It is believed that those persons are Americans, I don’t know; they don’t know for sure but they have been released and returned to Barbados on Tuesday,” he said.

When asked if Braithwaite and Benskin could return to the USA he said that he did not believe so.

“I do not believe so. I would have to inquire further about that but I do not believe that they are going to go back to the United States,” Thorne said.

Despite this, the affidavit report states that the men admitted to receiving a phone call from Barbados that instructed them to pick up marijuana at another location and pass it on to another person.

“Brathwaite and Benskin stated that they flew to Florida for a three-day vacation and that while they were in South Florida they received a phone call from someone in Barbados asking them to pick up marijuana at another location and pass it on to another person. The men allegedly said that they drove it to the hotel in a rental vehicle and were awaiting further instructions,” the arrest affidavit said.

When asked about the arrest statement, Brathwaite’s attorney Ralph Thorne said that if what was reported in the arrest affidavit was true it would show clear evidence of possession and neither Braithwaite nor Benskin would be allowed to return to Barbados.

“I can’t say what is true or untrue but what I can say in my professional judgment is if what you read to me had occurred, trust me they would not be in Barbados now. That is as much as I would say on that. That is clear evidence of possession and if you have that evidence of possession there is no way that they would have walked through Miami airport and come back to Barbados,” the lawyer and MP said.

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