No local arrests imminent in UK drug bust
November 23, 2003
The police have no plans as yet to lay charges against anyone in connection with the shipment of cocaine found in a consignment of mora logs at the UK port of Felixstowe.
The 120 kg cache is said to have a street value of 8 million pounds sterling or G$2.4B.
The local police told Stabroek News that they were still continuing their investigations into the incident. British law enforcement officers left Guyana last week after interviewing a number of persons including three employees of timber exporters, A Mazaharally and Sons, as well as timber exporters who made shipments between April 29 and May 6. Personnel at the shipping company from whose wharf the boat (MV Antilles) with the consignment sailed, were also questioned.
Observers are concerned that once again those implicated in wrongdoing may yet again escape punishment, like the officers implicated in the visa sale ring run by convicted US diplomat Thomas Carroll. A number of policemen from the Target Special Squad who acted as enforcers for Carroll and a number of local businessmen were identified during the course of investigations in the United States.
In that instance members of a special investigating team, which included Roxanne George, Director of Public Prosecutions, who worked along with US federal investigators, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to bring either departmental or criminal charges against the ranks involved, said Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj.
In the cocaine case the Mazaharally employees gave statements detailing their knowledge of the shipment or lack thereof to the British officers, who were assisted in their investigations by officers of the Criminal Investigations Department.
The British officers, who spent more than a week in Guyana, were following up leads arising out of the arrest of seven men in the United Kingdom, charged in connection with the importation of the cocaine. They are Lester Barrows, a Jamaican businessman, hairdresser Anthony Chambers, businessman Gerald Davies, accountant Mohamed Afzal Shaheen, civil servant, Milton Wilson, transport manager Michael Silcox and business development manager, Joseph Salmon.
British law enforcement officials tailed Barrows to Guyana when he came here to facilitate the shipment. Contact for the shipment, the prosecution in the United Kingdom said, was made at a boxing match in the United States with the promoters of a cultural event staged here.
The arrests in the United Kingdom were made in June and it was some four months later that the British authorities sought the assistance of the local police in pursuing their investigations locally.
A police officer told Stabroek News that once evidence of wrongdoing was found then those persons involved would be charged. He explained that there might be need for some arrangement to be made for the British officers involved in the investigations to return to Guyana to give evidence if need be.
The officer also explained that in the Carroll case the statements implicating the policemen were not made in a court of law under oath, but were part of the proffers made by Carroll and Khan during the interrogation in the United States.
He observed, however, that one of the officers named, Leon Fraser, had been killed and two of the others, who were named as material witnesses, had already left the force and country by the time the investigations in the United States and Guyana had been completed.
In October, the Ghana Narcotics Control Board reported the arrest of three men for the importation of a quantity of cocaine concealed in a consignment of rice from Guyana. The cocaine was discovered when the rice arrived at Felixstowe in the United Kingdom. The British and Ghanaian authorities tracked the vessel on the high seas until it docked at Tema in Ghana. The arrests were made when they took delivery of the consignment.
Gajraj told Stabroek News that the authorities here were aware of the shipment and that the shipping and delivery had been a controlled exercise.