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Attorney Marcel Cardona: Not guilty plea on drug charge for Mexican was in “interest of justice”

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Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2022. 7:17 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: 35-уеаr-оld Јuаn Раblо Саbrеrа Lаgunаѕ, charged with possession of controlled substances for more than 19 pounds of suspected crystal meth, has pleaded not guilty after initially pleading guilty, and is awaiting trial.

Attorney Marcel Cardona, appointed by the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court to assist Cabrera Lagunas at his initial appearance, has detailed the sequence of events that led to the plea, noting that only Cabrera Lagunas was held at the moment of the initial bust and he wound up taking all the blame, and that police allegedly tried to influence him to plead guilty, suggesting that he would get off with a slap on the wrist.

As explained by Cardona, Cabrera Lagunas told him that while he was about to board a passenger boat in Corozal to return to Mexico with other paying passengers, someone saw officers approaching and shouted, and the intended passengers scattered their separate ways. Cabrera Lagunas said he hid behind some nearby bushes which is where police found him.

According to Cardona, “When the Police searched the luggage they found the offending items amongst the various items which the various passengers left behind. Since it was only the Mexican that was caught, then the blame was placed on him for the presence of the offending items. In those circumstances, he could not be said to have been in actual possession and control of the offending items, and that is really why [I] reported back to the Court that in the circumstances, he could not be properly found guilty of possession of controlled drugs…” Cardona added that the Magistrate listened to Cabrera Lagunas’ explanation of events and decided that “in the interest of justice, she would allow him to change his plea to not guilty.”

The attorney also noted that Cabrera Lagunas did not have legal representation and that he, Cardona, was asked to explain in Spanish what was written in the affidavit of assessed street value of the drugs by officer Lennox Broaster and its effect [in English].

Accordingly, the officers at the police station had advised Cabrera Lagunas to plead guilty, suggesting that the Magistrate “would have gone easy on him” with a small fine, no imprisonment and release rather than being remanded to Central Prison awaiting trial – for something he says he had knowledge of. Cardona said he advised Cabrera Lagunas that he was being “misled or ill-advised” and that led to the events in court. Cabrera Lagunas was denied bail on the basis of being a flight risk and will have to apply to the Supreme Court for bail.

Cabrera Lagunas wаѕ саught оn Јulу 28 іn Раtсhаkаn Vіllаgе, Соrоzаl Dіѕtrісt, hiding in the bushes in the vicinity of where а tоtаl оf 8,913 grаmѕ or 19.6 pounds оf сrуѕtаl mеth was found.

Не wаѕ furthеr rеmаndеd tо thе Веlіzе Сеntrаl Рrіѕоn untіl Осtоbеr 19.

 

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