Jun 30, 2013 News
“In a small economy, that much money had a profound effect”-author David Casavis
By Dale Andrews
David Casavis is fascinated by the United States of America State Department, dedicating most of his adult life studying the working of the US diplomatic apparatus.
For him, that was made easier by his known connections to operatives in the sector and he enjoyed their company, journeying from country to country visiting US embassies and consulates for over 20 years.
In a way one could say that he envied the life of a US Foreign Service Officer, who was, in his words, “pampered” by the state.
“They were given a nice place to live in (but they complained about it); they were given a decent rate of pay and besides that they were given very nice trips…they complained that they were not travelling first class,” he told me in a recent exclusive interview via telephone from his home in New York.
So when Thomas Carroll’s scheme was uncovered, Casavis spent three years researching it; he could not imagine that someone who was given so much could be so greedy.
His research led him to some startling information that involved greed, complicity on the part of an administration that was compromised, and of course physical violence to protect was turned out to be a multi-million dollar visa selling racket.
He could not believe that one man had created such a huge hole in the US diplomatic service, one that threatened the national security of the world’s most powerful nation.
It also highlighted the adverse effect the operation had on our small economy.
The end result was a book, “The Thomas Carroll Affair”, which tries to detail the events surrounding a scandal that once again placed this small South American nation under the microscope.
According to the book, “the scope was vast beyond anything Georgetown had ever seen. Carroll was moving five visas a day, five days a week. That’s 25 visas a week. Conservatively estimated at US$8,000 each, those sales would total US$200,000 a week, or US$800,000 a month. In a small economy, that much money had a profound effect.”
“Consider first that this money was largely in American dollars- Carroll insisted on being paid in American dollars-the need for American dollars to pay Carroll’s ever rising prices created a demand for dollars. The supply and demand curve moved for United States dollars,” Casavis noted in his book.
Casavis’s book revealed that the US Embassy official, Carroll, closely watched the exchange rate.
It was at 148 Guyanese dollars to one US dollar when he arrived, and rose to 178 when he left.
“More Guyanese dollars were chasing American dollars. The nearly one million extra United States dollars a month needed to buy visas tipped the scale.”
“I recall the days when Guyanese were denied US visas as a rule, and this fitted Carroll’s scheme perfectly, as many Guyanese did some of the unthinkable, including selling their homes to obtain visas.
As the scale of the scheme grew bigger, Carroll began upping the stakes and in fact was hoping to establish a global network that would have guaranteed him and his local cohorts millions of dollars.
Casavis told me about Carroll’s network which included prominent Guyanese law enforcement officers and businessmen.
“His enforcers were Leon Fraser, the once feared Deputy Superintendent of Police, who was Second in Command of the Target Special Squad, and Eustace Abraham, the body building Constable popularly known as ‘Robo Cop’.”
According to Cassavis, the Guyana market was getting too small for Carroll, and with a parallel Chinese smuggling racket, aided and abetted by Guyanese officialdom eating away at his business, he was eager to use his enforcers to regain the upper hand.
The Chinese Trampoline
In his book, Casavis developed on the growing Chinese alien smuggling ring, run by persons he described as snakeheads, that had its base in Berbice and which was rivaling his own scheme.
This scheme according to Casavis, was aided and abetted by senior local officials including the late Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis and a new serving top police official.
‘Snakeheads’ are Chinese who smuggle Chinese nationals, and the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA called their operation the “Chinese trampoline”.
They charged high. It cost US$40,000 to $45,000 to smuggle a person into the United States in the year 2000. Many Chinese families scrape up what they can to pay the Snakeheads. The family usually chooses a healthy, young man to make the journey, get a job in the golden land, and repay the debt. Many in America’s cities work long hours for years paying off the Snakehead fee. By these standards Guyanese buying a visa from Thomas Carroll got off light at US$8,000 and a roundtrip airfare.
Carroll found out about the Chinese trampoline and was eager to create a trampoline of his own, this time smuggling Asians through South Africa where Casavis found out that he was to be posted after completing his tour of duty in Guyana.
“He wanted to form an Indian trampoline, using Haleem Khan. He felt he could use and (Leon ) Fraser too; Fraser was alive back then. He had all the contacts,” Casavis told me.
This would have made Carroll extremely rich; after all, according to Casavis, Carroll had already “stolen US$12M from the Guyanese people.”
“We still don’t have $2M, so we know he’s got it somewhere,” Casavis said, adding that he believes that local visa brokers got a portion of the money.
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