No bail for man caught with 5kg of cocaine in his car

Man arrested in the middle of a 5kg cocaine drug deal remanded in custody

Police (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Police (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

A man who was arrested on Saturday in the middle of what appears to be the sale of 5kg of cocaine has been remanded in custody on related charges this morning.

Darren Sven Formosa, 59 from Kalkara was arraigned before magistrate Abigail Critien on Monday accused of aggravated possession of the cocaine, in circumstances indicating that the drugs were not intended for his personal consumption.

Inspector Jonathan Cassar, prosecuting together with Inspector Alfredo Mangion, told the court that the drugs had already been divided into packages weighing 1kg and are estimated to have a street value of €300,000.

The police had received what they described as “spontaneous information” about a planned drug deal in Kalkara on Saturday, said the inspector.

Officers arriving at the location specified they had found Formosa in a van, and another individual in a second vehicle. A search was carried out at the scene and a bag containing five packages of cocaine were found inside Formosa’s van. A sachet of white powder, which the police suspect to also be cocaine was also found on his person.

In court today, Formosa pleaded not guilty. His defence lawyers, Josè Herrera, Matthew Xuereb and Martina Herrera requested bail.

Inspectors Cassar and Mangion opposed the request, citing the ongoing investigation and the fact that witnesses were yet to testify.

Lawyer Josè Herrera claimed that his client had not been given full disclosure of the evidence against him, something which the inspectors vehemently denied.

The defence disagreed with the argument that a possible future Investigation into third parties ought to preclude their client from being released from arrest.

Herrera later clarified that he was not criticising the prosecuting officers, whom he described as exemplary, but what he described as the recently-evolved practise of citing ongoing investigations to prevent defendants from getting bail.

Inspector Cassar was having none of it, however. “They [the defence] know full well from the disclosure they were given that there are third parties who are connected and who are currently being investigated.”

Magistrate Critien turned down the request for bail, due to the risk of evidence being lost or witnesses suborned, as well as the nature of the charges.

The lawyers asked that the defendant be examined by the prison doctor and be assigned to “a fitting division,” in view of an unspecified health problem.

The court upheld that request, also upholding the prosecution’s request for a freezing order over all of Formosa’s liquid and fixed assets.