The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) has been able to trace the shipper of furniture which was seized on Monday in Miami with cocaine in it and the net is being drawn tighter on those behind two shipments of pepper sauce cartons filled with the drug.

Sources say that following the publication in yesterday’s newspapers of a photograph of the furniture seized, CANU was able to identify who the shipper was. Further checks have to be made to determine if the cocaine was packed in the furniture here or elsewhere.

The M/V Rio Para on which the furniture was seized by US Customs and Border Protection Officers usually travels from Guyana to Suriname to Trinidad to St Martin and then to Miami. The shipment left in the 1st week of December and had been inspected at a wharf by a customs officer of the Guyana Revenue Authority. The US Drug Enforcement Agency has been in touch with local officials on the furniture bust.

Sources say both the pepper and the furniture cocaine probes have pointed out weaknesses in the area of Customs documentation. A broker had handled the furniture transaction for the East Bank shipper with a non-existent company name being given and a TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) belonging to an individual being used. This discrepancy should have been picked up by Customs. In the case of the pepper shipments there were also deficiencies on the documentation.

CANU and the police are now seeking three men in connection with the pepper shipment: Reginald Rodrigues, Indarpaul Doodnauth and Orlando Watson. The sources say progress has been made since the publication of the photographs of the men and charges could be preferred shortly.

It is believed that Rodrigues has fled to Suriname and local law enforcers have been in touch with the authorities in Paramaribo and have notified them that he is being sought.

One shipment of the pepper cocaine was seized last week in Canada and the other days later in the USVI.

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