$1m bail offer for flight attendant on cocaine charges – Jamaica Gleaner

WESTERN BUREAU:
MICHELLE VIRGO, the flight attendant who was arrested and charged after three pounds of cocaine was reportedly found in her luggage at Sangster International Airport on June 6, was offered bail in the sum of $1 million during her first court appearance on Friday.
Virgo, a 44-year-old dual citizen of Jamaica and United States addresses, is charged before the St James Parish Court with possession of, dealing in, attempting to export, and conspiracy to export cocaine.
At Virgo’s bail hearing, during which she sat calmly in the prisoner’s dock, her attorney Martyn Thomas told presiding parish judge Sasha-Marie Ashley that his client had consistently denied having any knowledge of the cocaine even after her arrest.
“I had an opportunity to read the statements, and every step of the way, she [Virgo] denied knowledge of the cocaine. She claimed that she was set up, and her suitcase was kept at home, left around persons who she trusted,” Thomas explained, while adding that Virgo had no previous convictions.
Meanwhile, the court was told that the prosecution was not opposed to bail for Virgo. It was also disclosed that the prosecution’s case file is currently incomplete, as the forensic certificate, scene-of-crime photographs, and a corroborating officer’s statement are outstanding.
“A bail application has been made on your behalf, the Crown is unopposed to bail, and the bench has no reason to deny it to you. I am offering you bail in the sum of $1 million with one surety, and it must be a cash bond,” Judge Ashley informed Virgo.
As part of her bail conditions, Virgo is expected to report to the police three times each week and surrender her travel documents, and a stop-order has been put in place to prevent her from leaving Jamaica through any of the island’s ports of entry. She was also ordered to submit her fingerprints to the police.
The matter will be mentioned in court again on September 11.
The allegations are that on September 6, Virgo was preparing to board a JetBlue flight destined for New York, at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James. During a routine security check, the cocaine, which is said to have a street value of US$75,000 (J$11.5 million) was reportedly found in a false compartment in Virgo’s suitcase.
Under caution, Virgo allegedly said, “Cocaine? This is unbelievable.”
She was later formally charged on June 10 with breaches of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Virgo’s case is not the first time a flight attendant has been arrested and charged in relation to attempted drug trafficking through Jamaica’s airports. On April 4, 2012, male flight attendant, Michael Buchanan, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment before the then Montego Bay Resident Magistrate’s Court, for trying to smuggle 12.8 pounds of cocaine through Sangster International Airport on December 12, 2011.
Four years later, on January 6, 2016, Rohan Myers was sentenced to two years and six months in federal prison in the United States after he was arrested the previous September for smuggling six and a half pounds of cocaine into South Florida in his underwear. Myers had been working as a flight attendant on a Caribbean Airlines flight from Montego Bay.
christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com
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