The Malta Independent 20 March 2018, Tuesday

Ħamrun drug raid: Three men remanded in custody

Friday, 12 January 2018, 15:53 Last update: about 3 months ago

Three men who were arrested on Thursday in a coordinated raid on a Ħamrun garage today were remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to their alleged involvement in drug trafficking.

The find yielded 32kg of cannabis and some €42,000 in cash.

Italian national Salvatore Coco, 48, was charged with trafficking cannabis, the importation and possession of the drug which was clearly not intended for his personal use, as well as with money laundering activities.

The prosecution explained that police had acted upon a tip-off that the Italian man was about to import a considerable supply of drugs. Police officers converged upon the complex of garages in St Vincent Street where they discovered a vehicle bearing Italian number plates. It was inside this vehicle, belonging to the Italian suspect, that police found the drugs and cash.

The prosecution strongly objected to the request for bail on behalf of the Italian man, pointing out that the charges were of a very grave nature and investigations were still at an early stage.

Duty magistrate Josette Demicoli turned down the request for bail and issued an order to freeze the man’s assets.

His two Maltese alleged accomplices Michael Aquilina, 45, of Mosta and Gordon Schembri, 31, of Floriana, also pleaded not guilty of conspiring to traffic cannabis, importing the drug, acting as accomplices and carrying out money laundering activities.

Aquilina was also charged with breaching earlier bail conditions and Schembri with being a relapser.

Both men requested bail which was denied by the court. A freezing order was also issued upon their assets.

Inspector Jonathan Cassar prosecuted. Lawyer Benjamin Valenzia was legal aid counsel to Coco. Lawyer Kathleen Calleja Grima was counsel to Aquilina and Schembri.

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