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One Bahamian and One Jamaican Convicted Of Trying To Bring 5,291 Pounds Of Cocaine To The U.S.

CONVICTED: Dwight Knowles of The Bahamas

WASHINGTON — Two Caribbean defendants were convicted in Washington on Friday after a 12-day jury trial for their roles in an international drug trafficking conspiracy that aimed to transport at least 5,291 pounds (2,400 kilograms) of cocaine aboard U.S.-registered aircraft.

Dwight Knowles, a Bahamian national also known as “Arizona,” and Oral George Thompson, a Jamaican national also known as “Chad,” were convicted of conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine on board the airplane.

Thompson is set to be sentenced on June 21, 2017, and Knowles is set to be sentenced on June 23, 2017. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia presided over the trial and will impose sentences.

According to the evidence introduced at trial, Knowles and Thompson sought to acquire a United States-registered aircraft to transport large quantities of cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela.

Thompson moved to Colombia by 1997 and Knowles followed by 2010. From their base in Colombia, the defendants were better able to connect with sources of cocaine who were seeking aircraft, mostly from the United States, to transport their cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela to Central America and the Caribbean, for eventual distribution elsewhere.

The evidence introduced at trial also revealed that from 2011 through May 2012, Knowles and Thompson sought to acquire a U.S.-registered aircraft to transport at least three loads of cocaine from Venezuela to Honduras.

The evidence showed that a total of at least 5,291 pounds (2,400 kilograms) of cocaine could have been transported in the three loads.

The plan was to acquire a U.S.-registered Beechcraft 1900 aircraft in The Bahamas, fly the plane to Haiti to refuel and pick up a second pilot, fly to Venezuela where the cocaine would be loaded on the plane, and then fly to Honduras to deliver the cocaine.

In May 2012, Knowles and Thompson arranged for a Bahamian pilot to fly the Beechcraft 1900 aircraft to Haiti; however, upon arriving in Haiti, the pilot and two other men on the plane were arrested and the plane was confiscated by Haitian authorities.

The DEA’s Orlando (Florida) office, Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia Country Offices, and Special Operations Division investigated the case.  The government of Colombia provided invaluable assistance through the investigation of this case, with specific assistance provided by the Colombian National Police.

Invaluable assistance was also provided by The Royal Bahamas Police Force, Drug Enforcement Unit; the Ministry of Traffic, Transportation and Urban Planning, Curacao Civil Aviation Authority; and, the National Police of Haiti, Anti-Drug Traffic Office.  The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also played a pivotal role in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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