A Sicilian and two Maltese have been arraigned in Court in connection with the capture of over 30kg of cannabis resin in Hamrun. The three persons were arrested yesterday in a raid by the Anti-Drug Squad, assisted by officers from the Rapid Intervention Unit. The three men, one of whom had only been out on bail for two months after being caught by the Police last year bringing 70kg of cannabis resin into Malta, have been detained under arrest at Corradino Correctional Facility.
Within less than 20 hours following their arrest, 48-year-old Salvatore Coco of Catania, 45-year-old Michael Aquilina of Mosta and 31-year-old Gordon Schembri of Floriana, were arraigned in Court and charged with trafficking and importation, as well as with complicity in trafficking of cannabis. They are also charged with money laundering.
Sicilian Salvatore Coco arraigned
Sicilian national Salvatore Coco was arraigned separately before Magistrate Josette Demicoli. Inspector Jonathan Cassar explained to the Court that the Police had information Coco was about to import drugs into Malta.
The Inspector added that when the Police went to a garages complex in St Vincent Street, Hamrun, they found a van with Italian registration plates and with 32kg of cannabis inside, as well as two bags each containing 21,000 euro in cash.
Coco pleased not guilty through his legal aid lawyer, Benjamin Valenzia, and requested bail. The Prosecution objected and the Court turned down the request.
Michael Aquilina and Gordon Schembri arraigned
Next to be arraigned were Michael Aquilina and Gordon Schembri. Inspector Cassar stated that the Police had found Schembri inside the garage, and Michael Aquilina was found in another car in the same street, in circumstances which showed they were together in this crime. Aquilina and Schembri pleaded not guilty to the charges. Both accused did not reply to questions by the Court when asked for personal details.
Lawyer Kathleen Grima, who is appearing for the two Maltese, requested bail as the Police had not found any drugs or cash in their possession. The lawyer added that they had been arraigned following the statement made about them by the Sicilian to the Police.
The Prosecution objected because of the serious nature of the crime. Regarding Michael Aquilina, Inspector Cassar pointed out that in September Aquilina had been arraigned in Court after having been apprehended bringing into Malta 70kg of cannabis on a speedboat at Ghadira, and he had been released on bail on 2 November. Gordon Schembri is charged with being a relapser. The Court denied the requests for bail, and ordered the freezing of assets of the three accused.
AĠĠORNAT: Tinqabad 30 kilo droga waqt rejd fil-Ħamrun