-info awaited from the US
Nymrod Singh, who had been held by CANU for questioning into a cocaine-filled shipment of furniture seized in Miami, was released yesterday pending further information from the US on the investigation there.
Singh was apprehended on Saturday at a hotel in Bartica after the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) had put out a wanted bulletin for him. Singh had been identified as the person who had shipped the drug-filled furniture to Miami. His defence during questioning over the weekend was that he had enabled the shipment for an acquaintance. CANU has determined that Singh had sent a shipment of furniture previously to the same consignee in Miami. Without further information from the US, sources say the investigation can go no further at this point.
Singh’s attorney, Vic Puran yesterday told Stabroek News that while there is circumstantial evidence that points to his client, thorough investigations by the authorities would prove him innocent.
Puran admitted that his client has shipped furniture before as he is into the business but he said for the particular shipment in which the cocaine was discovered Singh was working on behalf of another individual whom he wanted to help out. “The man went to him and said he wanted help to get into the business and he wanted to help him out not knowing that the man is a rascal,” the lawyer said.
According to Puran the man that his client told investigators about is not a “phantom” as he went into the custom broker with his client where the papers were drafted up.
He said that the broker has since attested to the fact that the man had indeed accompanied his client and this evidence was given to investigators. Puran said that it was that man’s employees who had loaded the shipment of furniture.
And while the man cannot be located by investigators it has been revealed that the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) he used during the transaction actually belonged to a man in Berbice who was hauled in by investigators for questioning. Puran said that the Berbice man is certainly not the man for whom his client shipped the furniture and he has since indicated this to investigators. He said from all indications the man “constructed” a false identification.
The lawyer feels that the police should investigate the custody of TINs at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to ascertain how another man’s TIN was used.
On December 29, US agents seized 373 pounds of cocaine from the furniture which had been transported by the MV Rio Para.
Meanwhile, sources say CANU is waiting to develop with Canadian authorities the evidence it has gathered in relation to the two shipments of pepper sauce with cocaine inserted into the dividers of the cartons.
Several people have been hauled in for questioning by CANU and useful leads have been gathered. Prosecution of these persons would be heavily dependent on eyewitness information – difficult to come by in this jurisdiction – or compelling evidence from the locus of the seizures: New Brunswick, Canada and St Croix, USVI.
One shipment was seized on December 8 in New Brunswick and another in the USVI on December 24.
Two people that CANU had sought in this matter, Reginald Rodrigues and Orlando Watson, are believed to have fled the country backtrack.
Rodrigues was thought to have made it to Suriname but authorities now believe he is in Venezuela and local authorities are to exchange the relevant information with their counterparts in Caracas. Watson is believed to be in Suriname.
Another person of interest, Inderpaul Doodnauth has been in contact with CANU. His brother, Mahendrapal was arrested in Canada in relation to the New Brunswick shipment. Two others who co-run a store in Georgetown have also been in contact with CANU. One of the two was also being questioned in relation to a shipment of timber with cocaine seized in the Caribbean last year. He has since been released by the police.
The other, a deportee, is believed to have sourced the cocaine that was stuffed into the dividers of the cartons. The sources say that the suppliers of the cocaine would be out of a large sum and would be looking to collect their debt.
Sources say CANU is working on strengthening collaboration with the US and Canadian authorities in light of the three massive busts and this is an evolving process considering the deterioration of relations that occurred over the last decade or so. Sources say CANU is gratified that it has unravelled the local support operation for this particular ring.
Security sources have pointed out that in the wake of the revamping of CANU there is now a great premium on the agency being able to catch traffickers red-handed before the shipments get out of the country and to have prosecutions done here.