Names released in NY drug bust
March 6, 2004
Follow the money: A New York Police Department chart shows how an alleged drug ring sent cocaine to New York and then returned money to Guyana to be laundered. (WABC-TV image)
More information is coming out about the recent drug bust involving JFK baggage handlers and so called Guyanese kingpins.
Stabroek News understands that eleven of the thirteen were arraigned on February 22 in the Brooklyn Supreme Court on conspiracy, weapons and drug possession charges. Two others were charged on Tuesday and Wednesday one of whom is said to be a major player in the drug ring estimated to have yearly revenues of US$75M from transporting 600 kg of cocaine. This individual has been remanded without bail while the others have had their bail set from US$500,000 to US$10M.
According to information coming out of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, among those charged are Ansel Gouveia, date of birth November 16, 1972 address given only as Georgetown, Guyana bail set at $10M; Steven Gerrara address given as Kitty and bail set at $10M; Mohanie Ali from Queens, date of birth December 20 1958; Kimberley Brown, Queens Village, NY born June 19 1972; Cleon Earl born May 28, 1967 also of Queens; and Rochelle Tillman also of Queens, born Feb 3 1969.
Nine suspects face up to life in prison on charges of criminal sale and criminal possession of drugs. Four other suspects charged with drug conspiracy face up to 25 years in prison.
Authorities have identified three Guyanese `kingpins' who have yet to be arrested.
Narcotics officers with the NYPD at a press conference on Thursday, stand over the cocaine and cash seized in raids that busted the Guyana/NY drug ring. (WABC-TV image)
"Operation Direct Connection," as police dubbed the investigation, kicked off about 18 months ago, shortly after a routine search warrant involving drugs helped police develop information that for the past 10 years or so cocaine distributors in Guyana had been sending the drug to the city.
Baggage handlers working for BWIA are said to have been paid to slip the mailbags holding cocaine onto the planes at Timehri.
The bag numbers and descriptions would then be relayed to New York distributors, who would pass the information along to JFK baggage handlers they had recruited.
The group is said to have maintained a network for both wholesale and retail distribution of the narcotics. Proceeds of this operation were returned to Guyana where additional members of the gang laundered the cash. The officers on this case seized a total of (US)$400,000, five vehicles, three guns and 50 kilos of cocaine.
This is the second such high profile bust in four months. In November, 25 baggage and cargo handlers were charged for involvement in diverting cocaine-filled luggage sent via flights from Guyana.
Local investigators say that Guyanese here are to be charged in this matter. Just recently, former national cyclist Paul Cho-wee-nam was charged in relation to another US drug find.