Texts and calls link trio charged with catamaran drug smuggling attempt

One person was released on bail on account of being a mother to an infant, while the two men were remanded in custody on charges of importing cannabis

The discovery had been made on 14 September, by police acting on information that a consignment of the drug was inbound that day
The discovery had been made on 14 September, by police acting on information that a consignment of the drug was inbound that day

A court has heard how an exchange of text messages and phone calls connected three persons arrested in a recent marijuana bust involving a car arriving from Sicily.

The compilation of evidence against three persons who are accused of importing almost 4kg of cannabis plant on the Malta-Sicily catamaran continued before magistrate Neville Camilleri this afternoon.

The discovery had been made on 15 September, by police acting on information that a consignment of the drug was inbound that day. The court was told how during the search of the vehicle that 41-year old Rita Scicluna had been driving, a dog handler had told the police that his sniffer dog had indicated something under the bonnet, where two packets of the drugs were eventually found.

Prosecution witnesses told the court that Scicluna, of Luqa, and 27-year-old Osaro Osarenkhoe, from Nigeria, had been on the ferry, while Scicluna's 28-year-old Sicily-resident husband Nicholas Obaseki, also from Nigeria had been waiting for them outside the ferry terminal in Malta. 

Lawyer Franco Debono asked prosecuting police inspector Gabriel Micallef how he knew the two passengers were travelling together, as Osarenkhoe had been arrested disembarking on foot. Inspector Micallef replied that they had checked in together, but separated during the voyage and disembarkation. Scicluna had disembarked driving her Toyota. The man was arrested after he aroused the police's suspicion by showing too much attention to the vehicle.

Debono asked Inspector Gabriel Micallef about the analysis of the accused's phones. The inspector replied that so far a number of telephone calls and messages had been exchanged between Scicluna and the other two co-accused.

A police sergeant told magistrate Neville Camilleri that on 15 September at around 8:00pm, he had been informed that a movement of drugs from Pozzallo was imminent.

As the two accused were being detained by the police, the woman asked to call her husband, who was waiting for her outside the gate “for the sake of the children.” When he arrived he had admitted to the police that the substances found in the car were intended for him. The three were arrested and Scicluna's baby was placed in her sister's care.

Scicluna is currently on bail on account of the infant, but a request that the men also be released from arrest was turned down again this afternoon.

The case continues next month.

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