Canadian security officials have arrived here for talks with their counterparts in the wake of the smashing of a ring which exported cocaine in cartons containing pepper sauce.

Sources say that the officials will be holding a series of meetings with the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the police force and others. These face-to-face meetings are expected to heighten cooperation between Georgetown and Ottawa on cracking down on the cocaine trade.

Thus far, CANU has questioned the key players in the organization that smuggled 376 kilos of cocaine in the pepper sauce cartons. One shipment was busted on December 8 in New Brunswick, Canada and the other was nabbed on December 24 in St Croix, the US Virgin Islands after Canadian authorities tipped off the US DEA.

Two people that CANU had sought in this matter, Reginald Rodrigues and Orlando Watson, are believed to have fled the country by the backtrack. Rodrigues was thought to have made it to Suriname but authorities now believe he is in Venezuela and local authorities have exchanged 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.

The other, a deportee, is believed to have sourced the cocaine that was stuffed into the dividers of the cartons.

While no charges have yet been laid and none of the drug shipments was intercepted here, CANU is confident that it has upturned the major drug supply network headquartered on the East Coast.

The laying of charges is said to be dependent on Canada supplying key information on the busts.

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