News24 (South Africa)
May 14, 2002

Ex-Cuban spy applies for bail

Johannesburg - Bizarre allegations of drug-smuggling by submarine were heard when former Cuban intelligence officer Nelson Pablo Yester Garrido applied for bail in the Randburg magistrate's court on Tuesday.

Garrido (43) was arrested on a five-year-old Interpol warrant on April 23 at home in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, for trial in the US for conspiracy involving drug trafficking, money laundering and transporting stolen goods across state boundaries.

An extradition hearing is scheduled for July 26 in the Randburg regional court.

According to documents before the court Yester-Garrido allegedly used 25 different names, and held a British passport in the name of Hector Santana.

He worked as a car, aircraft and motorcycle salesman, is skilled in operating multi-engined aircraft and is qualified to fly military jets.

According to the summary of the facts of the American case, Garrido was allegedly a member "of an organisation that supervised and controlled shipment and delivery of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and allegedly laundered the money received from the sales".

It is further claimed that the drug trafficking took place by means of submarine, helicopter and aircraft between South America, the US and countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.

Garrido, who has been held in custody at Pretoria Central prison, applied for bail before district Magistrate Pierre Louwrens.

During the application, prosecutor Clifford McKeldey said that when the application resumed on Thursday he would possibly apply for Louwrens to recuse himself and the hearing to start afresh before another magistrate.

Advocate Laurence Hodes, representing Garrido, said the defence would strongly oppose any application to remove Louwrens.

The State is opposing bail for Garrido on the grounds that 480kg of cocaine which in South Africa would be worth R120 million, was involved. The defence challenged this, pointing out that during the trials of alleged co-conspirators, the judge failed to find proof of the amount of cocaine involved.

The State called arresting officer Inspector Naren Parma who testified that passports bearing Garrido's photograph and other names where seized from his house and car in the arrest. Enquiries revealed that at least one was a fake and answers were awaited in respect of the others.

The application is due to resume on Thursday.