(INEWS)Former media worker Zanneel Nirmala Williams will be spending the next four years in jail.
On Monday, the 26-year-old was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $14, 442,000 for attempting to smuggle cocaine to the United States of America (USA).
Williams, who had been employed as a Communications Officer and as a Reporter, had made her initial court appearance in April 2022, when she had pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking charge. However, the following month, she had changed her plea to not guilty, and had been refused bail and was further remanded to prison. Her trial was scheduled to commence on Friday, February 10, before Diamond/Golden Grove Magistrate Sunil Scarce, but when Williams, of Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown, appeared in court then, she again, changed her plea to guilty.
On April 22, 2022, at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri, East Bank Demerara she had 9.628 kilograms (21 pounds) of cocaine in her possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Following the drug bust, she was arrested, along with Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) officer Anil Sookhoo, 33, of Kuru Kururu, Soesdyke-Linden Highway; and Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) officer Shameka Caesar, 27, of Durban Street, Wortmanville, Georgetown.
Sookhoo and Caesar have also been charged with drug trafficking, but have each been released on $750,000 bail, after pleading not guilty. It has been reported that on the day in question, Williams was an outgoing passenger on a JetBlue flight destined for JFK International Airport in the USA when CANU officers found a quantity of cocaine inside her hand luggage.
As a result of that find, she was arrested and taken to CANU Headquarters at Homestretch Avenue in Georgetown, where another set of cocaine was found strapped to her body.
The cocaine found in her luggage amounted to 7.962 kilograms, while another 1.666 kilograms of cocaine was found strapped to her body. The narcotic had a total street value of over GY$5 million, and upon arrival in the US, it would have been worth US$300,000 (GY$60 million).
Based on investigations, Police later arrested Sookhoo and Caesar.