Execution-style killings down since Roger Khan held – police

Police yesterday said that since drug-indicted businessman, Roger Khan had been captured by the United States, execution-style killings in Guyana have dropped considerably from 43 last year to 12 this year.

Speaking at the launch of their Christmas policing plan, Acting Crime Chief Seelall Persaud told reporters that the force has been working to dismantle the many criminal gangs operating in society. He said for the year so far they have crushed six gangs – most of them being involved in armed robberies. He said however, that the Buxton/Agricola criminal gang has remained and although the joint services have had some successes in attacking this enterprise there was still more work to be done. He mentioned too that there were still gangs of pirates tormenting fishermen at sea.

On the issue of drug gangs, Persaud said that since the US had arrested Khan in Suriname and extradited him to face drug charges in New York there has been a decrease in execution-style killings. For last year there were 43 execution-style killings, but only 12 for this year so far. Persaud said that Khan had a group of men who worked with him while he was here, but since he had been locked up the men have all gone in different directions.

“We believe that Mr. Khan was involved in narcotics trafficking and since his arrest we have seen a fragmentation of his gang instead of them being one place they are all over the place,” Persaud declared. The question was put to the Acting Crime Chief that since the police knew Khan operated a gang and had men – many of whom still roam the streets today working with him, why hadn’t the force gone after them? Persaud responded that charges are laid against individuals based on evidence. He said the police were still conducting investigations on the men.

Prior to being arrested one of Khan’s associates had told this newspaper that the businessman never got involved in actual operations. The associate who had asked not to be named said the drug accused used his own bodyguards and a network of armed informants (phantom squad) made up of mainly ex-convicts and ex-policemen. When Khan had made the disclosures Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon denied that the security services ever engaged the businessman to help it fight crime.

Khan has been indicted by a US Grand Jury for conspiring to import cocaine into that country between January 2001 and March 2006.

He had fled from this country when the security forces were on his trail and went to neighbouring Suriname where he and three of his bodyguards were later caught. Khan had boasted that when American diplomat, Steve Lesniak was kidnapped and taken to the village of Buxton he met with operatives from the American Embassy on a daily basis and provided them with information and hard evidence that led to the issuance of an arrest warrant for escapee Shawn Browne, who was thought to have masterminded the abduction. Browne was later cornered in a house a few days after and shot dead by the police. Stabroek News was told that the drug-indicted businessman employed ex-convicts and policemen, paid them and had them gather intelligence on the whereabouts of the five escapees: Browne, Troy Dick, Andrew Douglas, Dale Moore and Mark Fraser. The quintet had made a bloody escape from the Camp Street Prison on February 23, 2002. Their escape was the catalyst for a wave of crime that the country had never before experienced. During this period some 21 policemen were shot dead and numerous civilians murdered. This period also saw scores of policemen leaving the job and confidence in the force was at an all-time low.

Khan gained notoriety in Guyana when he, Sean Belfield, who was then a serving member of the Police Target Special Squad (TSS) and Haroon Yahya were intercepted at Good Hope by an army patrol in December 2002. The vehicle they were travelling in had a cache of high-powered weapons and electronic equipment capable of intercepting telephone calls.

The trio was charged and went before the courts, but the case was later dismissed. Sources close to the businessman had said that it was following the appointment of Winston Felix as Commissioner of Police that the relationship between Khan and the Target Squad was severed as Felix sought to dismantle the squad.

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