Two years jail, $1M fine for foreigners on suspicious aircraft

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Two foreigners, who landed at the Mahdia Airstrip in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) in an unmarked aircraft, were on Friday sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined $11 million on four additional charges.

Juan David Caicedo Villa, 32, a pilot of Colombia, and 48-year-old Gustavo Adolfo Riascos Gomez, a pilot and businessman of Tachira San Cristobal, Venezuela, both appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.

The duo pleaded guilty to the charges which alleged that on November 4, 2021, at Mahdia Airstrip, they interfered with the registration and identification mark of the aircraft and also operated it without a certificate. The men also admitted to operating the aircraft in a reckless manner and without insurance.

The suspicious aircraft landed at the Mahdia Airstrip in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni)

They were sentenced to two years imprisonment for operating the aircraft without a certificate. For the latter charges, they were fined a total of $11 million; failure to pay the fine will result in a default sentence of three years imprisonment.

Last week, the men were arraigned before the Chief Magistrate for illegal entry and the possession of cannabis; they had pleaded not guilty to these two charges and were remanded to prison.

Police had reported that on the day in question at around 18:00 hrs, the men circled the airstrip before landing. It is alleged that they exited the aircraft and told police: “We are lost, we came from Venezuela and going to look for gold.”

The men were confronted by police in front of Trans Guyana’s hanger. The men and the aircraft were searched but nothing illegal was found, however, three 15 gallon drums – two of which contained fuel, a hammock with net, a bag with clothing and personal effects were on the aircraft.

Inside the aircraft, police discovered a black bag with identification cards; documents; a Garmin GPS; one Iridium Phone (satellite phone); an Icom radio set; a spot trace device; two phone chargers; an earpiece; a lighter; a torchlight; one Motorola phone; a Samsung phone; a knife; two wristwatches; a wallet; two grams of suspected cannabis and bamboo wrap.

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