An American who arrived in Dublin airport with more than half a million euro worth of cannabis in his suitcases told customs officers he thought it was “just a small bit of pot”, a court has heard.
Caleb Williams (35) of First Street, Ocala, Florida, USA, pleaded guilty to one count of importing cannabis and one count of possessing cannabis for sale or supply at Dublin Airport on April 20, 2023. He has no previous convictions in the United States.
He was jailed for five years on Tuesday in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Williams was pulled over by a customs officer after he was seen acting in an uneasy manner at the airport, Garda Pierce O’Dwyer told Brian Storan BL, prosecuting.
The court heard that when Williams’ three suitcases – two large and one small – were searched, a total of 60 packs of cannabis with a street value of €542,000 were found.
Williams said he was transporting the drugs for a fee of about $5,000-$6,000 and had no idea how much cannabis was in the suitcases, which he said he hadn’t opened. He said he thought it was “just a small bit of pot”.
He told gardaí he did not know cannabis is illegal in Ireland. Cannabis is legal in William’s native Florida, the court heard.
The court heard Williams said he met a friend in Orange County who supplied him with the drugs and he then drove to St Louis where he flew into Dublin via Frankfurt.
The court heard Williams was also interested in visiting Ireland because his sister played basketball here before and that he wanted to see some “castles”. This was his first time leaving the States. He has been in custody since he arrived.
James Dwyer SC, defending, told the court Williams worked for Walmart as a warehouse worker and had racked up a number of debts to family members. He has two young children. Mr Dwyer handed in a number of testimonials on behalf of his client, who he said is extremely remorseful.
Sentencing Williams, Judge Martin Nolan accepted he is remorseful and said he believed it was unlikely that Williams would re-offend. He noted the offence involved a large amount of drugs and that Williams was being paid to transport them.
He handed down a five-year jail term and backdated it to when Williams first went into custody last year.