Guyanese woman on trial in New Brunswick over immigrant smuggling

A Guyanese woman has gone on trial in New Brunswick, Canada for allegedly attempting to smuggle several of her countrymen across the border into Schenectady, NY.

According to the St Stephen Telegraph-Journal, the trial so far has provided graphic detail of the business and focused on the role of a paid Royal Canadian Mounted Police informant.

The paid informant and Crown witness, Lloyd Laking admitted to the court that Savita Singh-Murray attracted him sexually. He was under cross-examination in St. Stephen provincial court yesterday.

Savita Singh-Murray
Savita Singh-Murray

The married man told the court he had no intention of having an affair with the St. Stephen area woman who is charged with conspiracy to smuggle people from Guyana into the United States illegally. He was replying to questions from Singh-Murray’s lawyer Randall Wilson.

The online report said that on May, 2009, the RCMP charged Singh-Murray, then 43, Joseph Vaughn McCluskey, then 71, of Fredericton and Mohamed Habin Yusef, then 53, and Ravindra Hariprasad, then 36, both of Scarborough, Ont., with conspiracy with others to encourage or induce aliens to enter the United States illegally between May 5, 2007, and May 11, 2009.

Laking testified on the fourth day of the trial.

“Yes, a different situation, I would have sex with that woman,” he conceded after the court heard recorded conversation between Laking and two undercover RCMP officers.

In the recorded conversation Laking denied ever having sex with Singh-Murray, “not that I wouldn’t want to.”

According to the report, the officers and Laking, a paid RCMP agent, made the comments in Laking’s pickup truck on June 18, 2008, following a meeting at Tim Hortons on Prospect St. Fredericton. At the meeting the undercover officers, who posed as truck-driver friends of Laking, discussed prices and other details of smuggling people into the US.

At that time a young woman from Guyana related to Singh-Murray, was staying at McCluskey’s Fredericton apartment. The young woman, who was in Canada legally, wanted to go to Schenectady, N.Y,, to join her family, Laking told the court.

Contrary to what he had said under direct examination by federal Crown prosecutor on Wednesday, Laking said he did not decide immediately to go to the RCMP when his friend McCluskey told him that Singh-Murray was short of money and could not get family members into the US.

“I was almost on the verge of doing it and making illegal money,” he said under questioning by Wilson. After “soul searching” he decided not to “jeopardize everything my wife has worked for”, the St Stephen Telegraph-Journal said.

Laking’s criminal record was also brought up. According to the report his criminal record includes indecent assault, impaired driving, selling a snowplow he had not completely paid for, assault and fighting. The man said he has not entered the United States since the early 1990s because of outstanding fraud charges facing him there.

He met with an RCMP officer after meeting Singh-Murray and McCluskey at McCluskey’s apartment in October 2007.

At that meeting Singh-Murray allegedly said illegal aliens pay Cdn$3,000 to Cdn$5,000 to the people who took them across the border.

The report said that at a later meeting in the churchyard at Andersonville they settled on Cdn$5,000, Laking said. At this meeting Singh-Murray also reportedly asked Laking to help sell 120 OxyContin pills, Laking told the court.

As a paid RCMP agent, Laking negotiated a Cdn$75,000 fee plus gasoline money, he told the court. He has received half, he said, and is to get the rest when this trial ends.

On June 18, 2008, at Tim Hortons Singh-Murray and the undercover agents settled on Cdn$2,500 per person.

The agents said they would not risk their tractor-trailer to take one person across the border at that price.

The report said that the RCMP set up the meeting at Tim Hortons after McCluskey called Laking upset that he had the young Guyanese woman in his apartment.

At the June 18 meeting Singh-Murray gave the undercover officers the telephone number for her brother-in-law “John” – who was in reality Yusef, the St Stephen Telegraph-Journal said. He sometimes sent Guyanese nationals to her by bus to smuggle into Maine from New Brunswick, the undercover officers told the court.

The undercover officers met Yusef at a doughnut shop in the Scarborough area on Nov. 20, 2008.

They then agreed to smuggle a couple from Guyana across the border from the Toronto area. As set up, the Ontario Provincial Police stopped the truck with these people on board Dec. 4, 2008. Charges were then laid. The trial is continuing.

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