– illegally travelled to Guyana several times – Dutch news
President of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, had forged drug ties with convicted Guyanese drug dealer, Shaheed “Roger” Khan shortly before the latter was arrested in 2006 and taken to US to face charges.
The Dutch-owned NRC and RTL Nieuws of Holland, Europe, reportedly has copies of the secret US diplomatic cables detailing the relationship of Bouterse and Khan and spoke of protection being offered in Suriname.
According to the news agencies yesterday, Bouterse travelled illegally to Guyana, although facing an international arrest warrant, meeting with Khan in both countries secretly and arranging protection for illegal activities including gun running and drug smuggling.
The explosive claims by the Dutch news agency accused Bouterse of engaging in drug dealing despite 1999 conviction in absentia by the Netherlands. The illegal activities would have continued until 2006.
In that year, Khan was, according to the U.S., the largest drug lord in Guyana but was arrested by Suriname police.
In the diplomatic cables, Bouterse and Khan would meet each other frequently.
Khan was involved, according to the U.S. cables, in trading guns for drugs with the Colombian rebel group, FARC.
“Bouterse and Khan were also involved in “murders and planned murders” at home.
The cables also reportedly mentioned that former Surinamese Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Chandrikapersad Santokhi and Subhas Punwasi, was on a hot-list for the two.
The secret official messages, with qualification “NOFORN” – no foreign eyes, not intended for foreign eyes), contain details of Bouterse’s contacts with Khan and said that Khan settled illegally and traveled to Suriname in relative ease meeting with Bouterse.
One of the meetings took place near the village of Wasjabo, in the west of Suriname, next to the border river of Corentyne.
In a cable from the embassy in Paramaribo, based on “sensitive sources” by Ambassador Marsha Barnes, Bouterse was in it for the money.
The crackdown against drug trafficking by the Minister of Justice and former police chief, Santokhi, would have affected Bouterse’s financial position, the news agency reported yesterday. “That forced him to new partners like Khan to shake hands,” says Barnes.
In return, Bouterse allowed Khan access to “Suriname’s criminal elements and structures” and “easy access to scheduled shipment of drugs to Europe”.
The relevant cables come from the embassies in Paramaribo and the Guyanese capital of Georgetown, the reports say.
In March 2009, Khan who owned several properties in Guyana as well as developing a number of housing schemes shortly before his arrest, pleaded guilty to all charges leveled against him in the US and was sentenced to 15 years.
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.
Simels has since been jailed for attempting to tamper with witnesses of the case.
Court documents had 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.
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 2008, 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.
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.
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