Late last month, an officer of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) was shot in a stakeout at Bee Hive, East Coast Demerara.
It was a joint operation involving the enforcement arm of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), CANU ranks and the police.
The authorities were acting on intelligence that a smuggling operation was supposed to take place.
After an exchange of gunshots, GRA seized a boat and engine. The boat was carrying a large quantity of smuggled beers, high-end liquor and chicken.
The items were believed smuggled from neighbouring Suriname. No one was arrested. The joint team believed that someone was shot though.
The authorities immediately launched an operation.
There were raids to the home of Mahaica River-side home of Harrylall ‘Jinga’ Motilall.
Since then, 13 engines and a small vessel were seized. Also taken away were Ipads, cash and documents.
Motilall, who has been targeted by GRA for alleged smuggling over the years, is defiant.
“I’m not a smuggler. I am being targeted,” the Mahaica man insisted during a recent visit to Kaieteur News.
He said that there has been a systematic attack on his home over the years by GRA’s enforcement officers. It has left him in ill-health.
Motilall said that shortly after the Bee Hive incident, GRA targeted his home yet again.
Nobody was at home, he said, when the authorities broke into his home and carted off cash, Ipads, documents and even colognes.
Motilall claimed that years ago, he was an importer of goods from Suriname, and owner of a fishing fleet and a trucking service.
He said that now almost all of his businesses have now fallen.
He says that today he has a fleet of boats, belonging to a private owner. The vessel does regular fishing.
He is currently trying to obtain a licence to import fuel.
Motilall clarified that while he has been tagged with ‘Jinga’, that name really belongs to his father.
Motilall claimed that the harassment from Customs started 30 years ago with a named official from the enforcement arm regularly demanding money from him.
He said that the harassment eventually forced the closure of his import business.
However, the harassment never stopped and from time to time, GRA would descend on his place and seize vehicles.
A few years ago, the businessman said that he was jailed in his absence for discharging a loaded firearm. He served some time and was released. He denied that he was involved in any shooting.
He also stated that no firearm was found on him.
He said he went abroad, with the permission of the Chief Justice (ag) at the time, Yonette Cummings, to do his heart surgery.
On the day that he was at the doctor in 2016, he was unknowingly charged.
When he returned, he was taken into custody and jailed.
Motilall believed that he was targeted and somebody was ordering his victimisation.
Motilall claimed that he is currently unemployed and relies on finance from his wife and son in the US. Additionally, he gets finance from his wharf, aback of his Mahaica home for which he charges a fee.
He said he was in town when he was called by a neighbour last month and informed that police and Customs Officers had surrounded his house.
The law officials entered his yard by breaking a fence and cutting the padlock.
He stated that they stayed at his premises the entire day, searching.
He went back home in the evening to find US$7000, colognes and paperwork missing.
Motilall said that he was at home the next day when GRA officials returned.
The businessman complained that a few months ago, he went to Skeldon and GRA officials seized US$15,000 from him. The money was not returned. The money was to conduct business.
He said that the money was not returned even though he provided documents to show where the money came from.
On numerous occasions, cars and even minibuses were seized. The police even seized his firearm because he had too many rounds.
“I am not a smuggler and I have not done anything illegal. I have to take injections in my eyes. I can’t see properly. How am I smuggling? I had nothing to do with that Bee Hive incident.”
According to the Motilall family, the GRA and other officials are entering and breaking their home without court orders.
The family has now retained a lawyer to retrieve the seized items.
This past week, two family members were arrested and held for 72 hours and released without charges.
Three days ago, the family claimed that GRA enforcement officials came and seized two boat engines that were purchased from Courts.
Although the family produced documents, the engines were taken away.
The family said that they have not ruled out a lawsuit against GRA.
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