Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Juan Pimentel-Traveras, a native of the Dominican Republic (DR) who was nabbed at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport with a large quantity of jewelry and cash, was remanded to prison by Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens today, June 12.
Traveras did not plead to the several counts of handling stolen goods during his arraignment since according to his lawyer Stephen Daniels, he was experiencing difficulty explaining to his client to plead not guilty.
Traveras, who speaks Spanish, will be pleaded on Thursday, June 14.
Senior Crown Counsel Christlyn Benjamin said Traveras, who has been living in the BVI for some four years, is a store clerk at Bend Down Boutique in Purcell Estate.
She said it is alleged that on June 7 at 7:30 am, he was clearing security at the airport and at the time, he had a boarding pass to travel to his homeland, DR.
Benjamin said during a search of his carry-on luggage, a large quantity of jewelry and cash were found in the luggage. This, she said, arose suspicion by security personnel and a report was immediately made to the East End Police Station.
Police Officers then met the defendant at the airport where he was arrested. The man was taken to the Road Town Police Station where the jewelry and cash were detained.
At the Police Station, an officer assisted with interpretation during the Police interview.
Benjamin told the court that with regards to the jewelry, he told Police Officers that the jewelry in his possession belonged to him because he bought them. He said the money was given to him by someone to take overseas. The man provided the name of the person to Police and according to Benjamin, investigations are continuing in this regard.
The value of jewelry amounts to some $8,000.00, while there were US$9,378.00, BBD$2, TT$2, GUY$300.00 and DR currencies.
Meanwhile, the court heard that victims of recent burglaries have since identified some of the jewelry found on Traveras to be their property. There were two persons from Nothingham Estate in relation to two May 18 burglaries and two persons from Pockwood Pond in relation to a May 24 break-in.
Benjamin said Police are still investigating the matter and a lot of the jewelry has to be identified.
His lawyer in his bail application said his client has been in custody since June 7 and he has no previous conviction. Daniels said there are family members ready and willing to sign surety for him.
Daniels also inquired about the money, stating that it does not amount to the $10,000.00 threshold where it has to be declared. He asked what the intention of the crown was and noted that it should be returned to his client.
However, Benjamin, who objected to bail, said he is a flight risk and the accused being out on bail will hamper the investigations.
She noted that the crown is aware that the money does not meet the threshold to be declared, but he was allegedly found with stolen goods and investigation surrounding the money is also ongoing.
Traveras, who was remanded to prison, will return to court on June 14.