42Kilo cocaine bust…One on trial, warrant issued for two
The three men who were part of a four-man group charged following a huge cocaine bust last November and remanded to prison before being released after their names mysteriously disappeared from the case docket have had the charges reinstituted against them.
The men, Canada-based Guyanese Narayan Jarbandhan, 40; Gary Belgrave, 52, and Leo Hernandez, 44, were arrested by the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU). According to the charge, on November 3, at Line Path, Skeldon, Corentyne, Berbice, the four had in their possession 41.856 kilogrammes (92 pounds) of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
The men had pleaded not guilty to the offence. Attorney at law Ramesh Rajkumar had argued that his three clients Jarbandhan, Belgrave and Hernandez were in fact never charged and were locked up wrongfully for a prolonged period. Magistrate Krishndat Persaud had then dismissed the charge.
The fourth man, Salim Bacchus, 49 called ‘Black Salim’, of Crabwood Creek, whose name appeared on a separate docket, was tried and subsequently freed. It is understood that the names of the three persons appeared on the outside of the other docket but Bacchus’s name was written again on the inside of that one.
The men were subsequently recharged. Arrest warrants have been issued but only Jarbandhan has so far been arrested.
He appeared at the Whim Magistrate’s Court, yesterday, before Magistrate Fabio Azore, yesterday. The trial began with CANU officer Rayon Samuel who described himself as a surveillance officer giving evidence.
He informed the court about the role he played in the investigation. When court adjourned the witness was being crossed examined by defence attorney Ramesh Rajkumar.
In the meanwhile, Mr. Rajkumar stated that CANU is not being truthful in stating that an arrest warrant has been issued for Bacchus. He said that as far as he is informed, Bacchus has not been recharged; no warrant or bulletin has been issued for his client’s arrest.
Rajkumar stated that as far as he knows his client’s case was dismissed. He is also aware that the state has filed an appeal.
When the charge was originally read to the quartet, CANU Prosecutor Oswald Massiah had told the court that Jarbandhan was charged with a similar offence committed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) while he was travelling to Canada, some time during 2009. He was charged after allegedly being caught with 2.553 kilogrammes of cocaine in a false compartment of his suitcase. At the time, his address was given as Lot 11 Gordon Street, Kitty and he was described as a clothing trader.