$550M cocaine bust: Implicated persons charged- CANU


… says they will appear at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court today

The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) on Tuesday instituted charges against five persons in connection with the recent discovery of $550 million worth of cocaine in dressed lumber at Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo.

Those charged include owner of the sawmill, Narine Lall, who is still out of the jurisdiction. The others are ace biker Stephen Vieira; race car driver Nazim Gafoor and his father, Tazim Gafoor; and Sherwayne DeAbreu. The men were charged for trafficking in narcotics.

CANU, in a release, stated that the facts of the matter will be presented when the men make their appearance at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court today and during the trial.

On May 12, members of CANU swooped down on a lumber yard at Lot 227 Zeelugt, where they conducted a search on a truck that was laden with several pallets of 1×6 dressed lumber that was being prepared for export to the United States.

Some 85 kilos (187 pounds) of cocaine, with a street value of $550 million, was found concealed in lumber being prepared for shipment to the USA.

During the search, several boards were reportedly drilled randomly, and a whitish substance suspected to be cocaine was detected. The truck was escorted to CANU headquarters, where the lumber was further examined, and it was discovered that each of the compromised boards had a dugout cavity that held vacuum-sealed plastic packets containing cocaine paste.

Four workers at the lumber yard were taken into Police custody, but were released on Monday last after it was established that they were only contracted to transport the lumber.

However, further investigations by the CANU ranks led to the arrest of Nazim Gafoor and Haleem Mohamed. Gafoor’s father as well as Vieira were then listed by CANU as persons of interest.

Vieira had been listed on the shipping documents as the representative of Lall, the shipper of the consignment of lumber. With the help of law enforcement officers, Tazim Gafoor was arrested and handed over to CANU.

The Gafoors and Mohamed were subsequently released. A few days later, Vieira was arrested immediately after disembarking a Fly Jamaica flight at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.

He was reportedly in Jamaica preparing for the Caribbean Motor Racing Championships, but in light of the allegations brought against him, the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club suspended his licence thus blocking his participation.

After spending three days in custody, he was released on his own recognisance and a warrant that was issued for his arrest was revoked following a court hearing.

Meanwhile, CANU stated that it would continue to tighten its grip on narcotic distributors throughout the country.



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