FIVE years ago Barrington McKay was preparing ganja from his half-acre farm in Walkerswood, St Ann, for export when narcotics police swooped down and arrested him.
The 52-year-old small farmer was subsequently charged with possession of ganja, dealing in ganja, and taking steps preparatory to export ganja.
He had been farming for more than 30 years in the parish when he was introduced to the ganja trade by “dealers”.
In a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer, McKay said that he has managed to put his life back on track, sharing that his time in prison was used to reflect on the mistake that led to his conviction. He was ordered to pay $300,000 or spend six months in prison. It was his first offence.
“Nuff man tell you seh dem will kill and go prison; nuh listen dem. Some of dem go in the first day and mad. It rough in there. Don't make nobody tell you nothing. Yuh sleep 'pon the floor and if you can buy a piece of sponge, yuh buy it and sleep. Mi just did try keep to miself and go the library and read nuff, nuff. So when a man a talk to mi, mi a hear but mi nah listen. A just that mi do and serve four out of the six months,” McKay told the Sunday Observer at his farm.
“Mi look back 'pon it and seh it shouldn't happen. But you know man a do it and things a go good, suh you try a thing, you know? A nuh coke; nobody nah get hurt. You get me? Mi get mi lesson though, and mi gone back pon the right track. Mi a do back mi likkle thing,” he said.
He told the Sunday Observer that in April 2013 he gave a man, who turned out to be an informant, some of the crop to sell. He said that it was after this exchange that his troubles with the law began.
“Same as mi start reap the weed mi give a man like pound fi go sell a bredda and get like $8,000 because a good weed. Mi give him some out of it and him call me a likkle while after and seh one Englishman like the weed. When him seh him a come, mi tell him buy one card and put 'pon mi phone. My girl, mi dung a bush whole day a wait 'pon him and can't see him a come. Two twos him call seh mi fi carry two pound a the weed come; that was Saturday. Mi tell him mi nah bring it because something never seem right.
“Sunday morning mi come a bush early, but it look like from in the night him tell the police them 'bout me. Mi there early and mi hear like one engine turn off. Suh mi a seh 'wait, a wah this?' By the time mi look, a pure police surround mi; about five van come. Mi can't run again because them surround mi. Suh mi a seh 'no bly fi me?' The Gideon go up, them go up 'pon the farm and all of them have a cutlass like them plan fi mi. Them chop and burn down everything, including the dry weed weh did weigh over hundred pound,” he said.
McKay said that on May 4, 2013, he was taken to court where he pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced.
“When mi hear seh mi fi pay the $300,000 mi start fret because mi nuh mek nuh money off the weed yet. Mi mek a call to foreign, but them never have nuh money and a suh mi end up a serve the time,” he said, adding that the ganja would have been flown to Haiti where he would have received US$500 per pound for it.
He told the Sunday Observer that he spent one month at the Ocho Rios Police lock-up before he was transferred to the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, where he served three months.
Today, he is earning up to $65,000 for one batch of pepper in two weeks.
“Mi see too much things inna prison,” McKay said. “Mi see man lick down man inna that. So when you go in and it's the first you going in, you just hold your corner and be smart. Mi don't plan to go back, suh mi pick up back mi farming and a gwaan do mi thing. Mi just want the youth them know seh a nuh the way to go. It naah go carry you far, you see it?”