Tape Shows Officials Taking Money
MIAMI (AP) _ Former officials of the Turks and Caicos Islands were seen accepting thousands of dollars from a convicted drug smuggler on a videotape which was shown to a federal court jury Thursday.
Norman Saunders, 41, who resigned as chief minister of the British colony shortly after his arrest March 5, was shown collecting $20,000 from Barry Seal, 45, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug smuggling.
Aulden ″Smokey″ Smith, 33, and Stafford Missick, 47, also former officials of Turks and Caicos, each were shown receiving $5,000 from Seal.
All three ex-officials were charged with 11 drug counts. A fourth defendant, Andre Fournier, 46, a Quebec businessmen, also was charged in the case but pleaded guilty last week.
Prosecutor Richard Gregorie told the jury in his opening arguments Tuesday that the tapes would prove that the trio conspired to let Seal use Turks and Caicos as a refueling spot for drug runs between South America and the United States.
Saunders’ defense lawyer, Albert Krieger, told jurors that Seal couldn’t be believed.
The tape showed Fournier, Saunders, Smith, Missick, Seal and undercover Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Gary Sloboda discussing the division of profits of future drug deals in a Miami hotel room March 5.
It was agreed that Smith, Missick and Saunders would get 25 percent of the net profits, according to the discussion.
Also during the meeting, which took about an hour and a half, the men talked about creating a savings account that would be used for bail money if any of the partners was caught.
Seal was shown paying Saunders the money before Smith, Missick and Fournier arrived at the meeting.
″Twenty grand on top of all the rest of it should be enough,″ Seal told Saunders.
Missick and Smith got their money at the end of the meeting.
The jury has seen other tapes of meetings between Seal and the defendants in Miami hotel rooms and in Saunders’ home in Turks and Caicos.
Phillip Carlton, Missick’s defense attorney, said in his opening statement that his client was conducting his own investigation of drug smuggling.