Alleged Dominica Drug Lord Granted Bail in UK
Just over a year after being arrested at the Gatwick airport in the United Kingdom, , Curtis “Shakes” Richards is a free man, as he was recently released on bail, when a British Magistrate denied an extradition request from France.
At the time of his arrest, French authorities accused Richards of cocaine smuggling and firearms offences, and described him as being one of the biggest suppliers of drugs between Dominica and Guadeloupe, but he has maintained his innocence.
Ben Cooper, who represented Richards argued that, the Caribbean jails were overcrowded and dirty, infested with rats, toads, cockroaches and other animals.
He further argued that although the Overseas Territories were part of France their jails were a far cry from what exists in that country.
Following Magistrate’s Quentin Purdy ruling, the 54 year old Richards who had been in Wandsworth prison was set free under bail conditions.
In his ruling, he said that although there had been no independent inspections of prison facilities in the French West Indies, the series of court findings in France revealed problems in the jails and dismissed the extradition request.
The Magistrate’s ruling has brought into sharp international focus conditions at prisons in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The French authorities have one week to appeal the judge’s decision.