Alleged self-confessed drug baron Barry Dataram is claiming that a major drug network exists at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) which sees key officers of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) playing a key role in the smuggling and trafficking of illicit substances in and out of Guyana.
Dataram in an exclusive interview with television Journalist Travis Chase on Saturday, reportedly confessed to being a drug trafficker, but boasted that he was never convicted.
In a video posted on Chase’s facebook page, he asked Dataram about accusations by authorities that he is a drug trafficker, to which Dataram responded; “yea I do drugs, I won’t say a lie. [But] I never been convicted of nothing… but I know what going on with the streets, I know what going on with CANU.”
Dataram also reportedly spoke of a massive drug trafficking network at the CJIA and noted that the same CANU officers who are searching persons for drugs at the port of entry, are the ones allowing less suspicious shipments of the illicit drugs to pass through the airport and make its way to other destinations.
The self-confessed drug dealer also alleged that there is massive corruption at CANU, with drug lords fueling the luxurious lifestyle of officers at the counter-narcotics unit in exchange for information on raids and protection.
Dataram reportedly said that he decided to go public with this information after CANU officers conducted a raid on his nephew’s house and removed $13 million; however they are only able to account for $10 million.
There has been a long held public perception that ranks attached to key law enforcement agencies were part and parcel of various ploys to traffic and smuggle illicit substances through official ports of entry and exist locally but few have been caught or tried.
When contacted on Saturday evening, Head of CANU James Singh said he was not aware of the interview nor the allegations made by the self-confessed drug baron.
“I have no idea what you are talking about, I understand that Mr Dataram had an interview, I don’t know the contents of that interview so I can’t comment on it,” Singh said.
When asked pointedly if he was aware of the search on Dataram’s nephew’s home and the removal of the money, he declined to comment on “an active investigation”.
The CANU Head noted, however, that any allegation of wrongdoing by any member of CANU will be investigated.
“As I said, I wait to hear what is said and then based on what is said, we would then proceed from there… any allegation made against any member of CANU will obviously be investigated,” Singh concluded.
Dataram gained notoriety in 2007 following the kidnapping of his wife Sheleza and their three-year-old daughter by two Venezuelans; one of whom was later shot dead in a confrontation with Police.
He was then arrested and detained by Police beyond the 72-hour constitutional detention period expired. His lawyers subsequently approached the court with a Habeas Corpus Writ but the Police asked for an extension to conclude their investigations into the kidnapping, which they said was drug-related. What followed was a series of court appearances during which Dataram was twice set free and rearrested.
He was finally set free in December 2008. Then, in July 2015, Dataram, his 19-year-old reputed wife Anjanie Boodnarine, as well as Trevor Gouveia and Komal Charan were jointly charged for 129.230kg of cocaine that was found in frozen seafood at Dataram’s Lot 661 Fourth Avenue, Block X, Diamond, East Bank Demerara (EBD) residence on April 16, 2015.
He was also found to be in possession of a quantity of firearms and ammunition. He subsequently secured $4 million bail by the High Court and another $400,000 for the weapons.
His 19-year-old reputed wife was also granted bail in the High Court in the sum of $1.5 million, along with the two other accused.