The Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) has filed drug trafficking charges against racing bike champion Stephen Vieira and four others in connection with the recent $550M cocaine-in-lumber bust.
A CANU release stated that the Unit had filed two charges in respect of the cocaine found in dressed wood on May 12, 2017 against Narine Lall (for whom an arrest warrant was issued) Tazim Gafoor, Stephen Vieira, Sherwayne De Abreu, and Nazim Gafoor, for trafficking in narcotics.
Narine Lall is still to be arrested, while the other four accused are scheduled to appear in the Leonora Magistrate’s Court today. The case will be prosecuted by CANU prosecutor, Konyo Sandiford.
“CANU will continue to tighten its grip on Narcotic distributors throughout the country,” the release stated.
Vieira had appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates Court earlier this month following his arrest at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. He was released after an arrest warrant for him was discharged.
The charges come just a few days after CANU indicated that the agency is seeking international assistance to retrieve video footage that had been wiped from a Digital Video Recording (DVR) that was seized from one of the suspects.
CANU agents had suspected that there was evidence on the device that would further link the illegal substance that was discovered in timber to the five suspects,
CANU had focused attention on the suspects following the discovery of some 84.986 kilogrammes (187 pounds) of cocaine worth $550M in lumber at the Lot 227 Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo premises of Akeem Mohamed.
The bust was made just as the lumber was being packed into a truck.
The drug agency had stated that ranks had searched a truck laden with several pallets of 1×6 dressed lumber boards prepared for export. Several pieces of boards were drilled randomly by the ranks and revealed a whitish substance.
The lumber was packed at a sawmill located at Lookout, East Bank Essequibo belonging to Narine Lall to be transported to a wharf in Georgetown and then shipped to the United States of America, CANU stated.
Lall, who is said to be out of the jurisdiction, is wanted by the counter narcotics agency.
CANU in a statement said that Vieira is listed on the shipping documents as a representative of the shipper, Narine Lall. Tazim Gafoor and his son, Nazim, along with Hakim Mohamed, were also arrested and were subsequently released.
CANU also seized a Digital Video Recording Device retrieved from Nazim Gafoor.
According to CANU, Tazim Gafoor was placed before the court charged for his role in another cocaine matter. The 43-year-old man of 39 Menzies Street, Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, last year September following the discovery of over nine kilogrammes of cocaine.
Meanwhile, CANU disclosed that the trial involving Joy Caines is set to commence on
June 29 at 09:00 hrs in Georgetown.
Caines, of 232 Luckhoo Street, Lodge Housing Scheme, Georgetown, pleaded not guilty to the charge which read that on April 16 at the aforementioned address, she had in her possession 2.092 kilogrammes of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
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