Gran tricked in drug scam
It’s the kind of traumatic experience a person of any age would dread.
An 83-year-old Bajan grandmother in New York answers a knock on her door and sees four police officers with a search warrant, demanding to examine the contents of a barrel her grandson had reportedly left behind for the woman to ship to him in Barbados.
The Brooklyn resident, who recently retired from a job on Long Island, didn’t object to the officers’ demand. After all, as a law-abiding immigrant who had never run afoul of the law, she had nothing to hide. If the cops wanted to search, they could go right ahead.
But when the cops dug deep into the barrel, what they found was somewhat of a nightmare, according to people familiar with the details.
“It was quite shocking and I feel sorry for the woman and distressed over it,” said a neighbour.
At the bottom of the barrel destined for Barbados, said law enforcement officials, were several pounds of cocaine and a gun, all neatly tucked in a can and surrounded by personal effects.
“When you see the woman and hear her, you would realize that it was highly unlikely she would have been involved in anything of the sort. It just goes to show what can happen to you and why you must be careful about accepting anything from people, even your closest relatives, including a grandson, without first inspecting it yourself,” one woman said.
The grandmother, whose name is being withheld along with that of her grandson and other relatives in and outside New York and Barbados for legal and safety reasons, is now shaking her head in disbelief while recovering from the shock.
“I am 83 years old, own my home, and I have never been involved with the courts and the police and I have never seen the inside of a jail until now,” she reportedly told an acquaintance.
What has traumatized the woman, according to friends, is that it was her grandson who put her in legal trouble. She was arrested, handcuffed and forced to spend three days in jail and hospital over something she didn’t know anything about.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, she was forced to spend US$20 000 to retain two different attorneys in order to get out of jail. She had to pay the hefty legal bill because the allegations involved drugs and gun possession.
“She is quite shaken,” said a woman.
In addition to her innocence and unsuspecting nature, the grandmother, who has been living in the United States for more than 35 years, suffers from high blood pressure and is now trying to recover from what to her and others was an earth-shaking experience that could have caused her death.
The story had its beginning, say neighbours, when the young man in his mid-20s made his usual visit to the city to spend time with his grandmother, or so he claimed. What initially made the trip so joyful was the fact that he brought along his child so the elderly woman could cradle the youngster in her arms and enjoy the pleasures of seeing a great-grand.
As friends and neighbours told it, everything went well until after the young man left on a recent weekday morning for Barbados with clear instructions that the barrel in the hallway should be shipped to him.
“She was eager to do it. After all, it belonged to her grandson,” said an official.
But the arrival of the cops and discovery of cocaine and gun changed everything.
Not only was she arrested, but she had to be hospitalized when her blood pressure went sky-high. She languished in jail for three days before an attorney secured her release, allowing her to return to the comfort of her home.
People familiar with the story say the horrifying tale should serve as a warning to others: don’t accept packages from anyone unless you have inspected them personally.
“It’s scary because it could have happened to any one of us. You don’t expect your grandchild to do that to you,” said a Bajan.
Another thing: the case partly explains how illegal drugs and guns get into Barbados from America and other countries, in barrels with personal effects.
“What’s amazing is that even now, the grandmother is trying to find a way out for her grandson, suggesting that he might have been set up by a trafficker who wanted to get at him,” said a neighbour. “It is true that someone probably tipped off the police about the barrel and its contents, but must have known about them.”