Mark Sarcasa, 36, escaped a drug trafficking charge this week when Magistrate Anne Marie Smith dismissed the case on Tuesday, August 28, on grounds that the arresting officer, Detective Constable Palacio, had failed to follow proper police procedure for the custody of the seized drug.
Police found 51.7 pounds of marijuana in a sack Sarcasa had when they intercepted him at a police checkpoint in Hattieville on December 7, last year.
Detective Palacio told the court he had handed over the sack to the Anti-drug Unit Exhibit Keeper.
This did not jive with Palacio’s statement on December 7, 2011, in which he said he took samples of the drug to the National Forensic Lab for testing on December 8.
The prosecution’s case began to unravel when the bag of cannabis and the samples were not produced in evidence.
Magisrate Smith verbally chastised Palacio, saying his gross incompetence was the worst she had seen in her many years on the bench in Belize and Barbados.
Attorney Arthur Saldivar represented Sarcasa and Sergeant Dennis Miles was the police prosecutor.
Outside the courtroom, Sarcasa, visible pleased with the outcome of his case, said it was his birthday and the dismissal of the charge was the best birthday gift he could have asked for.
He faced a minimum fine of $10,000 and possible prison time, if he had been convicted.