New CWC security regulations led to detention of Morgan
March 11, 2007
The new security regulations in place for the cricket world cup led to the detention of Guyanese businessman Peter Morgan.
Morgan, a popular race car driver and a principal in Morgan's Auto Sales, was held at the Piarco Inter-national Airport on Friday, only days after an indictment was unsealed in a New York court charging him with three counts of drug conspiracy.
According to a report in yesterday's Trinidad Express, Morgan arrived in Trinidad around 1 pm from Venezuela, aboard an Aeropostal flight. He was supposed to board another flight which would have taken him to Guyana when he was detained by two police officers from Trinidad's Organised Crime and Narco-tics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB), as well as two agents from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The report said the officers and agents had realised that Morgan's name was on a US "most wanted" list. He was held on a provisional arrest warrant by the officials on an indictment of conspiracy to traffic cocaine into the US between 2001 and 2003.
Tomorrow Morgan will appear before a Trinidad magistrate when a formal request by the US for his extradition to New York will be heard. He avoided immediate extradition to the US after the intervention of a high-powered team of lawyers, led by Guyanese-born Randy Depoo.
Morgan was known to travel frequently to Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Margarita Island and had been under surveillance for some time. His lawyer said he had been returning with colleagues from Panama to travel to Guyana. Authorities say he had been under surveillance by US authorities for a number of years after several run-ins with law enforcement and his name had been on a list of Guyanese that the US is aiming to place before American courts on drug charges. Morgan was indicted last November on three counts of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine in the US. The indictments were unsealed on Wednesday and an arrest warrant was issued the same day for him. His detention was reminiscent of that of Guyanese businessman Roger Khan, who is currently before a New York court on similar charges. Khan was also arrested in Trinidad after being deported from Suriname.
Recently, Port of Spain and Washington signed a new extradition treaty which makes it easier for the two countries to extradite suspects. Morgan was the third Guyanese wanted by the US in recent times to be arrested in Port of Spain. His arrest follows that of basketball coach, Christopher Raffel Douglas, and Khan. US authorities have resorted to this route as they believe Guyanese security forces are compromised and cannot be relied upon to execute arrest warrants. A previous attempt here several years ago for suspects, including Douglas, failed. Khan, who is currently before a US court charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into the US was arrested in Suriname last year June in a huge drug bust. The charges were later dropped and he was deported from Suriname to Guyana via Trinidad and Tobago. It was there that DEA officials seized him in a highly controversial and carefully orchestrated episode.
According to the first count of the New York grand jury indictment which Stabroek News has seen, Morgan together with others is alleged to have knowingly and intentionally conspired to import a controlled substance into the US from a place outside, to wit, five kilos or more of a substance containing cocaine. In the second indictment, the US said that Morgan together with others allegedly conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine into the US. The third count alleged that the Guyanese conspired to distribute cocaine intending and knowing that such substance would be imported into the USA. All three indictments are in violation of Title 21 United States Code Section 963 and 960.
Morgan was charged in December 1999 following an arms bust at the John Fernandes Wharf in Georgetown. Police and Customs and Excise agents found 14 guns, including semi-automatic weapons, pump-action rifles and revolvers in a container consigned to the businessman. They also found over 3000 rounds of ammunition in the container, which had been shipped from Miami, Florida by Nankumar Budhan to Morgan. Morgan and Budhan were subsequently charged and they both pleaded not guilty to joint charges of attempting to import concealed goods and being knowingly concerned in the importation of restricted goods. Budhan changed his plea and was sentenced to one year in prison on all five of the charges. He spent only one year incarcerated, however, since the sentences ran concurrently. The charges against Morgan were dropped on the advice of the DPP.
Morgan's case is said to be linked to the arrest in 2004 of Guyanese couple, Sabrina and Arnold Budhram and the smashing of a drug ring. They were said to have been part of a ring that smuggled a large amount of money from drug operations.