The man who is said to be in charge of the vessel whose crew members washed up along the Essequibo without innards, yesterday denied that the craft was connected to drug smuggling.
`Jango’, who relatives of the men said was the owner of the boat, again denied that he was and said that he had only been affiliated with it since July. He again refused to provide his real name to this newspaper when asked.
The man also denied that he and the vessel had any connections to drugs or fuel smuggling adding that “that it is not a nice thing to say at this particular time knowing that there is still one crew member missing”.
He said too that police were provided with some background information on the fourth person who had been working on the boat three days before it went missing.
For him, it is strange that only three bodies have been found.
According to the man, the boat is not new and had been involved in an accident before. After undergoing repairs, it was being taken for a test run before going on its first trip, but he did not say where. Sources say the police would be very interested in determining exactly what sort of work the vessel was engaged in.
There are still no leads on the disappearance of the Island Princess and its four-man crew. Three bullet-riddled and disembowelled bodies were found along the Essequibo River last week.
Two of the bodies have since been identified by relatives based on items recovered on them and it is suspected that they were part of the missing crew. Nothing was found on the third body, which was in an advanced state of decomposition having been in the water for a longer period. It was buried shortly after it was found.
So far, the police are working with information that Ryan Chin, Titus Buckery Nascimento, Rickford Bannister and Mahendra Singh called Sunil made up the crew aboard the missing boat.
Relatives of Chin, Nascimento and Bannister had told this newspaper that the men were working on a trawler but the police said in a subsequent release that it was a cargo vessel.
Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said yesterday that investigations are ongoing and DNA testing will be done on the bodies as persons have come forward saying that they are related to the men.
He said that there has been no new development in the investigations and there are no leads on the possible whereabouts of the vessel. It is unclear how long it would take to get the results of the tests. Similar tests for the Lindo Creek massacre have taken many months.
Police on Saturday for the first time spoke of the missing vessel and revealed some information about their investigation into its disappearance and the discovery of two of the bodies.
It said the four men were said to have left Parika with the vessel on September 26 for Friendship, East Bank Demerara. They were last contacted about 18:30 hours the said day and had given their location as the Essequibo River mouth, the release said. Efforts to contact them about half an hour later proved futile.
The bodies of Thomas and Singh were found in the vicinity of Wakenaam and Hamburg Island on September 29 and 30 respectively. Their bodies bore gunshot injuries and they had been disembowelled.
The release added that the police had since sought the assistance of Interpol and other friendly law enforcement agencies through the US Drug Enforcement Agency and had provided photographs of the vessel and other related information.
A third body bearing suspected gunshot wounds to the head and leg and which was also disembowelled was discovered on the Queenstown Foreshore on Friday.
Police described that body as being that of a man about 30 years old, of medium build and around 6 ft tall. He was clad in mauve underwear, was of medium build, brown in complexion and appeared to be of mixed ancestry.
Several senior police officials have indicated that all possible angles were being pursued especially since the murders were not “ordinary”.
The degutting of the bodies has puzzled authorities and some believe it represents the type of extreme violence associated with the drug trade. The Essequibo coast and north west have recently been the scene of drug-related crimes. Much of the cocaine passing through Guyana comes through Venezuela and by boat to the Essequibo coast.
Piracy has also been another major problem in this area. Many boats have been attacked and in some cases crew members killed.