November 1988 - Diary
blue text = diary
Tuesday 8th November 1988
0830hrs on duty at Narco re exhibits Green.
Wednesday 9th November 1988
0840hrs On duty @ office
The caller wanted to speak with the officer urgently as he had information about a cocaine supplier. The caller, in company with three of his 'friends' were currently on bail and were seeking to avoid appearing before the Court. In exchange for information the caller wished to have the prosecution against him dropped.
I advised I would speak with the officer and asked the caller to phone at the same time the following day.
I spoke with the officer and was informed that the information would be
reliable. However, the officer had other things to do and asked that, if possible, I
pursue the information provided.
Thursday 10th November 1988
0900hrs on duty @ office and corres @
This was acceptable. I was advised Vernon Dill was employed by the Opticians on Church Street. Mr Dill supplied cocaine and would regularly carry around as many as 10 'halves' of cocaine. These 'halves' were usually kept in a small pouch on his key fob.
Mr Dill's name meant nothing to me, but 10 halves of cocaine would be considered
possession with intent to supply and a reasonable arrest, certainly better than the
callers small possession charge. I again telephoned the officer who was dealing with
he caller's case and confirmed he was content for me to pursue the matter, he was.
We went to the basement, in company with Mr Gilfether, where we met Vernon Eugene Dill of Northcliff Lane, Devonshire. Vernon was alone in the basement, in a small annex off to the left of where the stairs met the basement floor. Vernon was at a bench on which were a number of tolls, a small area was clear and a plastic carrier bag was present.
I introduced DC Richardson and myself to Vernon and explained the purpose of our visit, displaying the search warrant and explaining we had also confirmed Mr Gilfether had no objection to our enquiry.
Vernon was agitated, nervous, looking about him and uttered some words of acknowledgement quickly. He immediately attempted to walk past myself and DC Richardson claiming he needed to use the bathroom, he wanted to go to the toilet. I prevented him from passing us by standing directly in front of him. Vernon attempted to walk around me and I explained that we would not keep him long, all being well and that we were going to conduct the search.
Vernon was insistent that he needed to use the toilet which was only a few feet from us. As Vernon attempted to walk past me I grabbed his arm and held him. His right fist was clenched tightly and I took hold of this and asked him what was in his hand. He replied that there was nothing. I asked him to open his hand and he refused stating that he wanted to use the bathroom. As I forced his hand open, Vernon relaxed his grip exposing a number of small cellophane 'twists' (halves) containing white powder. There were 10 of these and we sized them informing Vernon that he was under arrest.
I asked Vernon to collect his personal belongings and that we would be taking him to Hamilton Police Station. Vernon did not want to take anything with him, he asked if he would get bail before the shop closed and we confirmed this was likely. Vernon wanted to leave immediately on the basis that the sooner we started, the sooner he would be back. I asked Vernon for the keys to his car and he said that they were not needed, he would walk back. I explained that we would be searching his car (based on the information I had received, I wished to see if there were any further 'halves' in the key fob). Vernon was keen to leave but we walked the few feet to the bench and he picked up his keys.
I asked Mr Gilfether if Vernon had a locker, a secure place or storage area where he could keep personal possessions whilst working. He did not. Before we left I informed Vernon that we would be searching his bench area and that he should watch, we would conduct the search in his presence. Again, Vernon wanted to leave advising that we had found all that he had.
The bench area was reasonably clean and tidy, with a clear
area in front of which was the plastic carrier bag. I opened the bag and as a result
of what was in this I informed Vernon that we would be taking him to the Narcotics
department where the contents could be examined more carefully. Touching the
contents as little as possible I displayed them to Vernon, Mr Gilfether and DC Richardson.
There appeared to be about 100 twists, some powder cocaine and three large 'rocks'
each cylindrical, almost an inch in diameter and about 2 to 3 inches long.
The arrest of Vernon Dill resulted in the seizure of about
3ounces of cocaine. The drug was in three forms when seized:
It appeared Vernon had, that morning, taken possession of a 'shipment' and was in the process of converting the pellets to twists.
The arrest of Vernon was significant for a number of reasons:
1. This was the largest amount of cocaine (just over 3 ounces) seized with a prisoner during 1988. It was a prestigious arrest, notable and certainly one which would come to a lot of people's attention both inside and outside the police service.
2. From my perspective, this was my third day on the narcotics department coupled with this being a substantial seizure, the commencement to my appointment was going to be noted.
3. We had seized compressed cocaine. To my knowledge (supported by the comments made by the SOCO and Government Analyst) this had never before been encountered. It mattered not (at the time of arrest) whether we had been presented with crack or compacted cocaine. The importance was the presentation. Why would anyone wish to compact cocaine into these cylinder shapes?
Simply compacting the drug meant that it took up less space and this would be in any importers interests. However, there was not a substantial reduction in volume using this method and we were not thinking in terms of tons of the drug being imported at any one time. It took little to make substantial profits (see 'cocaine') and there are any number of ways to hide drugs, with or without compacting it.
The answer appeared to be very straightforward: Bermuda had been targeted by those who knew a very basic weakness - we had no resources and operated on a hit and miss basis. Bermuda's 'International' airport had (has?) no facility for dealing with 'swallowers' or 'stuffers'; those who secrete carefully wrapped and sealed packets of narcotics in their bodies. 'Swallowers' would take the packages orally, 'stuffers' would insert the packets into their bodies via the anus.
Compacting cocaine into these 'pellets' made the drug easier to swallow or stuff.
I brought this to the attention of the O.I.C. Narco and submitted a report for the attention of the C.A.T. staff. This report, I subsequently learnt, did not leave the office.
At the time of bringing my concerns to the O.I.C. Narcotics, I was informed that the information should be treated as confidential. I was told to consider the bigger picture and that the information should stay within the four walls of the Narcotics department.
Why? Because if it became public knowledge that narcotics were being imported in this manner it could lead to more people adopting the practice and Bermuda did not have the facility to handle this we did not have the resources or equipment to address the problem. Politically the subject was 'sensitive'.
As the 'new boy' in the office it was not my place to disagree with policy. I objected to the stance on the basis that the only way to address the issue was to make the matter public. Furthermore, clearly there were those who imported using 'internal secretion' methods - were we simply going to let them continue?
The answer appeared to be 'yes' because there was nothing we could do, without the resources, to combat the problem.
Absolutely nothing was done to address the situation, this was 'unfortunate'. It was not the last time we were to see these 'pellets' another substantial dealer was later found with them in his possession (this will be dealt with at the appropriate date in the Diary) and clearly this was a major importation method with links between the parties employing these tactics.
As ever, the Narcotics department was content with the glory of the moment. So much for considering the larger picture.
My subsequent involvement in the Vernon Dill investigation did not progress beyond the arrest, the enquiry was effectively taken from me. There had been some other 'street team' activity that day; a car had been stopped not far from the Bermuda Optical Co and the occupants, believed to be narcotics importers, were searched with negative results. There was a suggestion the occupants were linked to Vernon but no one could prove this. Instead, a street team sergeant, Dennis Gordon, took it upon himself to team up with D.C. Richardson (who accompanied me on the Vernon Dill arrest) and conduct the investigation of Vernon.
This too was unfortunate, the investigation did not progress. Dennis Gordon' approach to investigation was similar to the manner in which he conducted himself in the narcotics office; he who shouts loudest wins. He was a a short, stocky West Indian who would often loose himself in his own arguments such was the speed with which his words were shouted; his brain appeared to have difficulty keeping up with his mouth. There was no subtlety about his character, it was established from his attempts at aggression and intimidation; he was a loud, verbose bully.
When relaxed Dennis could be a pleasant man to speak with but when he wanted his way, reasoning was ignored and it was best to let him rant of his tunnel-visioned perspective. He was one of the 'domino' set who would gather in the PRC's 'West Indian section' (there was a clear segregation) and play dominoes as though it were a martial art, crashing the pieces onto the table top as if attempting to stamp their pattern into its surface.
Vernon's interview resulted in no further useful information, there was no evidence of substantial profits being hidden, no links to others associated with the importation and Vernon kept quiet. Having been caught 'bang to rights' with the drug it appeared Vernon had accepted his fate.
This was an interesting arrest. Such a seizure should have resulted in substantial enquiries being pursued to ascertain who else could be linked and whether there was more to be gained from associates, travel movements, telephone records etc. None of this was considered yet the arrest as the largest seizure (with prisoner) all year. It was an opportunity wasted.
Friday 11th November 1988
Public Holiday - rest day
Saturday 12th November 1988
Sunday 13th November 1988
During the above days I attended H.P.S. at least once a day to see Vernon. I was booked in and out of the gaol area and Vernon remained in his cell throughout our meetings. Vernon was to remain in custody until Tuesday when he was due to appear in Court. I took Vernon books and fresh fruit, the cells are not pleasant and the food, whilst adequate, was basic.
I do not deny I would have liked Vernon to have provided information enabling us to identify and pursue those who were supplying the drug to him. However, it was unlikely Vernon could give us a better arrest than we had in him and I suspect he knew this. To inform on his 'associates' could actually make matters worse. Who knows whether Vernon had an 'insurance policy' in the event of being arrested or if he was offered a deal in exchange for his silence by the suppliers.
When the matter went to Court, Vernon received 6 years imprisonment.
The person who gave the information resulting in Vernon's arrest was not prosecuted, both he and his three associates (all of whom had been arrested in relation to minor narcotics offences which would have resulted in their receiving fines) had their offences disregarded. It was simply a matter of their attending the narcotics office and being admonished.
Monday 14th November 1988
0900hrs On duty
Tuesday 15th November 1988
0830hrs On duty, corres @ office
I had received a gift which had been deposited at the Narcotics office. The 'gift' comprised a card and a small, wrapped, package about 6 inches long by 2 inches by half an inch. I was informed the gift was from Vernon Dill and it caused much conversation and speculation within the narcotics office.
I was called to the DCI's office to receive the gift but was not permitted to open it at that time, a decisionw as to be made about what to do with the items.
1410hrs To Court re Saunders
1605hrs To SOCO re gift photo. Opened in presence of Mr Moniz, Mr ramsey, Mr Hull and found to be a card and pen.
Everyone had anticipated the gift being information about the cocaine suppliers or associated with the investigation. This accounted for the number of Officers present. Instead, Vernon had been kind enough to deliver a thank you note and a pen for me. The card said it all and read:
We use the word 'wonderful'
Thanks for being so thoughtful.
(signed) Vernon Dill
There is a lot to be said for Vernon taking the time and trouble to deliver the card. To anyone who has not had the pleasure of visiting Bermuda, Vernon's act is indicative of the general character of the population. There is an overwhelming relaxation and kindness about their general attitude. Even in the face of adversity Vernon found time to appreciate others.
1615hrs to office
Wednesday 16th November 1988
0830hrs On duty corres @ office
Thursday 17th November 1988
0700hrs to Ops re 06530
Friday 18th November 1988
0400hrs on duty re warrants -
Saturday 19th November 1988
0915hrs to office
Saturday 20th November 1988
0845hrs on duty at Narcotics office file
updates, outstanding corres from uniform duty
Tuesday 22nd November 1988
Wednesday 23rd November 1988
0830hrs on duty for Court, to narco
office re exhibits case of R. Smith
1600hrs To narco office on duty
Thursday 24th November 1988
0900hrs on duty, standby, instructions
Friday 25th November 1988
0900hrs on duty and to HMC with PS
Gordon re Paul Johnson
Saturday 26th November 1988
0945hrs on duty to HPS re prisoner
Desilva charge & file re E. Desilva
Sunday 27th November 1988
Monday 28th November 1988
On duty @ office ~ contact PS Rush re G. Greene file
0930hrs Court G. Greene not guilty plea,
adjourned to 7th March 1989
Tuesday 29th November 1988
0900hrs on duty @ office
Wednesday 30th November 1988
0500hrs on duty re search at St Georges
with PS48, 369, 386, 375
0900hrs on duty and patrol with 375
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