Illegal aircraft origin not Colombia, still to be determined – Crime Chief

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-Brazilian, Venezuelan IDs found onboard

The multi-taskforce investigative team, dispatched to investigate the circumstances leading to abandonment of an illegal twin engine Beechcraft aircraft on an illegal airstrip in Region 9 (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), discovered identifying documents belonging to states of Brazil and Venezuela and are working to verify the authenticities of those. They are also in contact with regional and international counterparts to verify the origin of the aircraft.

The seized twin engine Beechcraft aircraft

On Sunday, acting on information, a team from Police ‘F’ Division visited the area and discovered a 5,400-foot long; 45-foot wide airstrip that appeared to have undergone recent repairs. This strip had been discovered and destroyed by the GDF only a few years ago. The aircraft landed while the ranks were making their way back to the airstrip. They reported that they saw some persons running into the bush.

Inside of the aircraft

Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum, told this publication they are trying to verify the origin of the aircraft and whether any criminal records are associated with the identifying documents found on the aircraft.

Although initial reports stated that the illegal twin engine Beechcraft is of Colombian origin, new information has surfaced indicating that it is registered to Brazil’s third largest bank Banco Bradesco.

However, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority said that they have received this information and are working with their Brazilian counterparts to determine whether the plane is indeed registered in that country.

The cockpit of the aircraft

State Minister Joseph Harmon in a statement late Monday night, said that a team comprising of members from the Guyana Defence Force, the Police Force’s Criminal Investigations Department, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and other related agencies have been deployed to the area to conduct an initial investigation.

Harmon noted that this initial assessment is an effort to gather evidence that will assist in the investigation into the circumstances, which led to the aircraft being abandoned on an illegal airstrip.

Nevertheless, he noted that Government expects a full investigation into this serious national security issue.

According to the ‘F’ Division Commander, Ravindradat Budhram, having received information from an unnamed source that the airstrip was being used, investigating ranks visited the site and were leaving the area when they observed an aircraft circling some distance away. The aircraft landed while the ranks were making their way back to the airstrip. They reported that they saw some persons running into the bush.

Following the discovery of the plane, an extensive search was mounted by a Joint Services team for the men, who had been observed fleeing, and the search continues.

Budhram noted that a search of the area unearthed three abandoned camps, in which canned food and other items were found. Additionally, 16 10-gallon containers, which are suspected to have contained aviation fuel, were also discovered. During the search of the aircraft, several pieces of communication equipment, including cellular phones, flashlights, a quantity of dried ration, medical supplies and an identification card were discovered.

The government said that because of the vast land and airspace, Guyana is particularly vulnerable to transnational security threats and that they are working with both local and international partners to build capacity and strengthen security as it relates to monitoring the airspace and landmass.

Meanwhile, investigations are ongoing, and the aircraft is said to have suffered some mechanical difficulties.

The GCAA is working to repair that and have it flown to the city. (Lakhram Bhagirat)

 

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