British Virgin Islands Customs officials are cracking down as three St. John residents were arrested at Tortola’s West End ferry dock within five days for marijuana possession.
In the first incident, a St. John surfing enthusiast was arrested on Tortola for marijuana possession and importation on Thursday, February 22, according to a published report.
Love City resident Misty Yates, 30, reportedly traveled to Tortola to surf where she was arrested by a BVI Customs officer at the West End dock around noon on February 22 after officials found slightly more than seven grams of marijuana in her bag.
$7,000 for Seven Gram
Yates pleaded guilty to charges of possession and importation of marijuana before BVI Magistrate Valerie Stephens on Friday, February 23, according to reports.
Stephens, who slapped St. John fisherman Adin Kauffman with a $30,000 fine for illegal fishing in BVI waters last month, levied a $1,000 fine on Yates for possession and a $6,000 fine for importation of the cannabis.
The fines were not initially paid and Yates was jailed. The St. John surfer spent at least four nights in prison before posting the $7,000 fine and being released last week. Had she not been able to pay the fine, Yates faced six months in jail, according to published reports.
Yates’ arrest was only the first incident in a busy weekend for West End customs officials.
Aggressive Searches at West End
A St. John-native was arrested at the West End ferry dock on Friday, February 23, for possession and importation of 11 grams of marijuana. The St. Johnian spent three nights in prison — where he slept on a wooden bench because there was no mattress — before appearing before BVI Magistrate Stephens on Monday, February 26.
“They are very aggressively searching luggage — far more than ever before,” said the resident, who wished to not be identified. “Then they hold you and arrest you and you can’t get bail if you are a foreigner.”
The resident, who pleaded guilty to both charges, was fined $1,500 for possession and $7,000 for importation of the cannabis. He was able to secure enough money to pay the fines and returned to St. John.
A third St. John resident was arrested on Sunday, February 25, for importation and possession of four grams of marijuana.
Busted for Two Joints
The resident reportedly had two joints in her bag when she was searched and arrested at the West End ferry dock. She spent the night in jail and appeared before Magistrate Stephens on Monday, February 26.
The third St. John resident arrested for marijuana possession was fined $1,000 for possession and $3,500 for importation of the cannabis. She was able to pay the fine the same day and returned to St. John.
While these three Love City residents had to find out the hard way, they should serve as an example to others traveling to the BVI, according to one of the victims.
“The customs officers are doing thorough searches — you can’t hide it,” said one of the residents who recently was arrested.