Booze smuggler hit with $8M fine

-fish vendor held in latest bust

The importer of a quantity of undeclared alcoholic beverages seized by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Christmas Eve was fined for importing the items illegally.

According to reports, the businessman, who hails from the East Coast Demerara (ECD), was ordered to pay a total of approximately $8 million for illegally importing  670 cases of Heineken beer, 47 cases of Smirnoff Vodka, 23 bottles of Johnnie Walker Black and a case of Hennessy early last week. The GRA valued the cargo at $5 million.

A source said yesterday that the items will be put up for auction by the GRA, while the importer, who is a repeat offender, would also have to pay a sum in order to have the St Vincent and the Grenadines-registered  vessel MV Mr John, used to transport the goods, released.

Nine persons were held in connection with the shipment; among them were six Guyanese, two Vincentians and a Jamaican. They were released on bail at the Brickdam police station last week.

The GRA subsequently issued a statement that the crew of the MV Mr John was intercepted off the coast of Montrose and a search was conducted. The GRA said that information received by the Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) officers after questioning the crew of the vessel indicated that they were to rendezvous with a smaller vessel to discharge the contraband.

The smaller vessel, MV Amazing Grace, was also detained.
Reports are that the MV Mr John departed St Maarten with its cargo. The GRA subsequently received a tip from a source that the vessel was moored in the Atlantic in the vicinity of Plaisance, ECD.

Meanwhile, this newspaper understands that a Coldingen, ECD fish vendor and his wife were among several persons who were detained by the GRA yesterday after more than 50 cases of contraband alcoholic beverages were unearthed at their home. The beverages included Johnnie Walker whiskey, Absolut Vodka and Hennessey.

Reports are that the Custom officers descended on the man’s residence yesterday after receiving a tip-off that the fish vendor was retailing the items at various areas on the ECD. The man, according to reports, purchased the items from another source who imported them from neighbouring Suriname. Charges are likely to be laid shortly.

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