Health inspection at La Paloma hotel turns into drug bust

A man living in the hotel complex was arrested by the police during an inspection by the Environemnt Health Directorate

The man, who lives in the La Paloma Hotel, was found to be in possession of an amount of cannabis that indicated it might not have been for his personal use
The man, who lives in the La Paloma Hotel, was found to be in possession of an amount of cannabis that indicated it might not have been for his personal use

A health inspection at La Paloma Hotel in St Paul’s Bay last month turned into a drug bust when one of the migrant residents was found in possession of a stash of cannabis resin and cannabis grass.

The court heard how Kinteeh Bakary heard a knock on the door of his room at La Paloma Hotel on Triq il-Gifen in St Paul’s Bay on 26 August. He answered the call to find police officers asking for his travel documentation. 

“He had on him a pouch, containing a travel document issued from Italy — a passport — together with suspected cannabis resin and suspected cannabis grass,” prosecuting officer Godwin Scerri said. 

He explained how police had been instructed to inspect the rundown hotel by the Environmental Health Directorate. 

Bakary pleaded not guilty to the charge of aggravated possession of drugs. It is unclear how much cannabis he was in possession of. 

The prosecution said, however, that Bakary had immediately admitted to possessing the contents of his pouch, telling officers that besides some €50 and a passport, the other green substances in his bag were his and that he had bought them from a man in Bugibba some time before.

“When asked whether he was aware that these substances were illegal, the accused did not reply,” Scerri said, adding that he was taken to the police station and told that he would be arraigned and charged with aggravated drug possession. 

The accused opted not to consult a lawyer.

The court appointed Gilbert Mercieca, a court expert in drug analysis and toxicology, to examine the contents of the man’s pouch and to determine the nature, quantity and value of the substances therein. 

The case was adjourned to 3 October.

Inspector Godwin Scerri prosecuted. 

Doreen Clarke was presiding magistrate.

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