On June 17, a strange ballet played out on the shores of Sainte-Rose. Once again, the city renowned for its fishing port is about to be the scene of the shipment of a cargo of zamal. Alerted, the gendarmes of the Sainte-Rose brigade hasten to go to the scene.
The patrol finds that the tip is first-hand. At the water’s edge, no less than 19 travel bags and four bundles are waiting to be picked up by a boat from Mauritius. In the luggage are no less than 147 kilos of zamal and 946.65 grams of cannabis resin. Everything is perfectly packaged, compacted as desired. The market value in the sister island where cannabis sells for exorbitant prices is estimated at 3 million euros.
A headliner and three accomplices
Not far from the stock of green gold, the gendarmes arrest Armand, 46 years old. The man seems to stand guard while waiting for the arrival of a boat with fellow Mauritians. It is ultimately he who is taken on board by the gendarmerie patrol for the purpose of police custody.
In the meantime, the soldiers have called in reinforcements. This is how two suspicious individuals were intercepted in a vehicle parked nearby. Jean-Giovanni, 34, is driving. At his side is Hémeric, 29, the headliner of traffic. A fourth man fell through the cracks. Jérôme, 31, will give himself up to the gendarmes after learning that his accomplices are in their hands.
Four other suspects were arrested. Small fry on the outskirts of the business. Reason why, they will be judged at the beginning of the year in plea-guilty mode. Over the course of police custody, led by the gendarmes of the Saint-Benoît company and the Saint-Denis research section, the eight Saint-Pierrois will make detailed confessions, assuming their share of responsibility in a lucrative traffic whose they didn’t necessarily know the ins and outs.
“Risk of retaliation”
Armand acknowledges having stored the goods at his place at the request of Hémeric, the conductor of the operation. It is moreover the latter who took the necessary steps to obtain the zamal at wholesale prices. Like them, Jean-Giovanni got his hands dirty to package and transport the goods safely to Sainte-Rose. The least involved of the gang is Jerome. He participated in the expedition to the East to keep watch and incidentally provide the padlocks for the bags.
Hémeric and his associates, brought before the Saint-Denis public prosecutor’s office and placed in pre-trial detention on Tuesday, were at the helm of the judicial court yesterday to answer for detention, transport and attempt or complicity in the export of narcotics but also criminal association. Except for Jérôme, who was only prosecuted for the last two counts.
The “brain” of the gang having requested a delay to prepare its defence, the court has decided to postpone their trial for all of them for July 6th. In the meantime, the defense lawyers pleaded for their placement under strict judicial supervision, arguing that they were all first-time offenders and that they had been “very clear on their role with a leader and followers”, indicates Me Roberto Ova for Jean-Giovanni. Me Chantal Daguerre, for Armand, recalls that this “did not vary in his statements”that he “is believable” and it’s not “leader”. Me Charles Bergier also recalls that his client, Jérôme, “presented himself to the gendarmerie when he knew he was wanted”.
Despite the arguments developed by the black robes, the four defendants were kept in pre-trial detention until the trial as requested by the deputy prosecutor, Fanny Gauvin. The magistrate pointed out “the extent of the trafficking, the risks of pressure and reprisals linked to the debt of narcotics which remains and a lack of guarantees of representation when they all face up to ten years in prison”.
> A casting with atypical profiles
The four defendants do not have the profile of delinquents. All have clean criminal records. However, they did not do things by halves for their introduction, risking up to ten years in prison. For novices, they have afforded the luxury of breaking a record by trying to pass on Maurice the trifle of 148 kilos of zamal for a marvelous market value of 3 million euros.
That being said, these budding traffickers are more or less integrated into society. Hémeric, the headliner, is the father of two children. This central kitchen employee, without pay because he had been on sick leave for almost two years, tried to recover to pay off a gambling debt of 6,500 euros, contracted around the circles of batay coq. Jérôme, pizza maker, at Les Assedics, is also addicted to gambling and admits to having “a big mistake”.
Jean-Giovanni, meanwhile, is the manager of a fruit and vegetable business that pays little. Strangled by bills and debts, this father who has worked in the fields since childhood swears that he will not be caught there. Ditto for Armand, a father in bad luck and at the RSA. He discovered in police custody that he was involved in trafficking for 3 million euros when he was to receive an unfortunate 300 euros for a role likely to cost him up to ten years in prison.