Human-smugglers receive prison time

PHILIPSBURG–“Your honour, it was tough for my sister in Jamaica. This is why I paid to get her documents for her to travel to St. Maarten for a better life,” stated one of the suspects in the human-smuggling case tried in the Court of First Instance on Wednesday.

The court sentenced ringleader Calvin Simmonds (59) to 14 months in prison for human-smuggling. The Court found it proven that Simmonds had provided false travel documents to two Jamaican women who tried to enter St. Maarten through Princess Juliana International Airport SXM on April 13.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Simmonds, who is from St. Maarten, was instrumental in providing the women illegal access to the island.

Nerline Green (44) and Zoya Cobourne (31) were also sentenced by the Court of First Instance for human-smuggling. They had given the Jamaican women the false travel documents and instructions as to what to say to the Immigration officers at the Airport. They both were given fully conditional three-month jail sentences and 60 hours of community service.

J.E.W. (28), suspected of falsifying the travel documents, was acquitted of all charges. The Prosecutor had requested his acquittal because he believed the case file did not contain enough legal and convincing evidence to lead to a conviction.

Cobourne explained during the court session that life for her sister in Jamaica was not easy and she had to borrow money from her husband to pay US $1,200 for the documents. She stated that at no time had she thought the documents were false. However, the judge did not believe her because of the secrecy involved in getting the documents from Simmonds.

The investigation against the four suspects was carried out by the Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking Unit, which consists of members of the St. Maarten Police Force and the Royal Dutch Marechaussees. Combating human-smuggling and human trafficking is one of the priorities of the Police Force and the Prosecutor’s Office.

Human-smuggling is defined as providing illegal entrance to and residence in St. Maarten. Human-trafficking involves exploitation.

Source: The Daily Herald