ROGER KHAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ALL CHARGES
…bargains for 15 years
Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan yesterday pleaded guilty to all charges levelled against him in the United States of America, and the prosecution in the Eastern District Circuit Court in Brooklyn has agreed to a 15-year sentence offered during a plea bargain.
The matter was to have gone to trial next month, and Khan faced life imprisonment on conviction.
In 2006, Suriname police arrested Khan and three ex-policemen, Sean Belfield, Paul Rodrigues and Lloyd Roberts.
He was ordered deported, but instead of being transported to the border with Guyana, Khan was flown to Trinidad where the authorities refused to grant him permission to land.
Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) immediately arrested him and shipped him to the USA on a charge of masterminding large shipments of illegal drugs to that country.
Khan had initially pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of drug-possession and drug-distribution charges, which alleged that he imported, conspired to import and distribute, and possessed cocaine for the purpose of distribution on a number of dates between 2001 and 2006.
He was also charged for being part of an international distribution conspiracy.
Khan was also in 1993 charged with possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition, and was granted bail but fled the US jurisdiction.
Presiding judge, Judge Dora Irizarry, on January 16, 2007 denied Khan bail, citing among other things that Khan, when he faced lesser sentences several years ago, fled to Guyana and never returned.
Subsequently the defence, which was then led by Robert Simels, attempted to have Judge Irizarry removed from presiding over the case, citing that she was biased.
Court documents bolstered Khan’s defence, saying that the judge should be removed just on the basis that an objective person could question her impartiality. Those objections were late over-ruled.
As the cases progressed there were some startling revelations. Court documents surfaced, fingering Khan in almost 200 murders in Guyana.
Khan has been fingered as having ordered the execution of Donald Allison, a boxing coach of Agricola; and Devendra Persaud, a businessman who has been fingered in the killing of a local pilot from Ogle.
Allison was named in a court document as being the gun-runner for the local infamous ‘Fine Man’ gang, while Persaud was suspected of cooperating with the US Government against Khan and other local drug couriers.
Khan’s case took a surreal twist in 2008 when he, along with his Attorney Robert Simels and Simel’s associate Arienne Irving, were all charged with witness tampering, namely attempting to “eliminate” the main witness against his client, federal officials said.
Khan allegedly told Simels that the case against him hinged on one man – identified in court papers as “John Doe No 1”.
Simels wanted to “eliminate” and “neutralise” the witness, authorities said.
He allegedly told a government informant at one point: “Obviously, any witness you can eliminate is a good thing.”
The Feds said that on June 19, 2008 Simels met with the government informant in his Manhattan office and handed over $1,000 down-payment for the hit.
The two were recorded, according to the federal complaint, with Simels saying: “Here’s $1,000 to get started.”
When the undercover informant said, “No problem”, Simels replied, “All [Khan] says is be careful. He says don’t kill the [witness’s] mother.”
A review of prison visitation records revealed that on June 13, 2008 Irving visited Khan. On the same day, Simels sent the CS an e-mail that read: “Simply (Khan) says be careful in your efforts to gather information, and do not do anything that can be misconstrued by anyone. These are difficult times and people will draw the most unfavourable inferences. So be cautious. Have authorisation for payment for gathering materials.”
This move followed the interdiction of Simels for plotting to eliminate a witness pertaining to Khan’s trial.
The prosecution had also petitioned the courts to retrieve a computer described as ‘spy equipment’ which they said was in Simels’s office. That piece of equipment was subsequently seized and turned over to the DEA’s main computer laboratory for analysis.
In August last year, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon had told media operatives that the US State Department had no record of a request by Guyana to import any of the surveillance equipment that was held with Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan.
A previous statement attributed Simels to have stated that Khan had purchased computer telephonic surveillance equipment from a Spy Shop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with permission from the Guyana Government.
Dr Luncheon also said at that time that a request for the export of the equipment through the relevant law-enforcement agency would have to be proffered for its procurement, and there was no evidence that this was ever done.
When asked if the serial numbers on the equipment could not be traced, Dr Luncheon said that that was not a part of the official request.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had previously denied claims that the Government had authorised Khan’s importation of a sensitive piece of electronic equipment and its seizure by the Joint Services.
Just who is Roger Khan
Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan, known as ‘Shortman’, was a successful contractor credited with designing buildings on the University of Guyana campus and some private residences.
He is also credited with establishing a reputable low-income housing programme through one of his companies, Dream Works Inc.
On February 23, 2002, Dale Moore, Troy Dick, Sean Brown, Andrew Douglas and Mark Fraser staged a daring escape from the Camp Street prison, killing a Prison Officer and wounding another.
This sparked off a wave of terror that had the official security forces searching for answers.
In December 2002, Khan, Haroon Yahyah and Sean Belfield were arrested at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara, in a bulletproof vehicle.
At the time of their detention, an arms cache, a laptop computer, and an electronic device to track cellular phone calls were found.
The laptop computer also boasted a map of Guyana and the various cell sites operated at the time by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company.
When they were arrested, one of the men, Belfield, an ex-member of the Guyana Police Force, had told police that they were hunting the infamous 2002 Mash Day escapees.
Subsequently allegations started to permeate society that there was a squad headed by the said Khan.
The squad was subsequently referred to as ‘phantoms’, a phrase that was initially coined by Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon, who had distanced the Government from the operations of the alleged killing squad.
The infamous escapees were said to be responsible for several high-profile robberies, killings and kidnappings, including that of young businessman Bramanand Nandalall, as well as the Regional Security Chief attached to the US embassy, Steve Lesniak.
The so-called ‘Phantom Squad’ was said to have been responsible for freeing the two men from the hands of the criminals, as well as ridding the society of the criminal scourge, among others such as Premkumar Sookraj, alias Amar Gobin, also called ‘Inspector Gadget’ and other notorious criminals.
There were also reports that the squad had hired gunmen from Trinidad and other Caribbean islands to infiltrate the bandits’ hideout in Buxton.
During the 2005 floods Khan demonstrated a humanitarian side when he, through Dreamworks, provided victims with flood relief such as food and mattress among other supplies.
Soon after the floods the Joint Services commenced a series of raids on properties owned by Khan, and he subsequently fled to Suriname.
The raids were precipitated by the loss of 33 AK-47s from the Guyana Defence Force.
Whilst in hiding in Berbice on his way to Suriname, Khan issued a paid whole-page advertisement in the daily private newspapers attacking the then Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix.
“Myself and the Commissioner of Police were close personal friends for over four (4) years. Because of the fact that we could not see eye-to-eye with each other on matters of public concern, we parted company and my friends became his enemies.
“The recent Joint GPF/GDF operations could not have been intended to recover the missing AK-47 guns and other weapons stolen from the GDF.
“If there was any suspicion that I had anything to do with the disappearance, such suspicions ought to have been dispelled by now.
“I have concerns that the Police under the Command of Winston Felix will not respect my civil rights and my rights to due process of law, and I do believe that such concerns are reasonably entertained.
“I am willing to answer any questions relating to my relationship with Winston Felix in a Commission of Inquiry under oath and even under a polygraph test.
“Is Winston Felix prepared to do the same thing?”
Khan’s refuge in Suriname did not last long as he and three of his bodyguards were arrested during a drug raid in Paramaribo.
Khan’s reputation as a drug kingpin had gone before him, as a senior government official in the Suriname administration described him as very dangerous.
The official had also indicated his country’s willingness to hand Khan over to US authorities, who had wanted him to face drug-trafficking and other charges.
He was subsequently flown to Trinidad, from where he was controversially whisked to America, despite efforts by top-notch attorneys to prevent his extradition.