Canadian court hears more testimony in Guyanese `backtracking’ case

-cocaine in pepper sauce shipment mentioned

A Canadian court heard more evidence in a case in which several Guyanese are accused of attempting to smuggle their fellow countrymen into the US including how the alleged mastermind pondered how law enforcers were able to make arrests.

According to the Telegraph-Journal, a court in St Stephen, New Brunswick heard yesterday that an RCMP undercover operator told the truth to the alleged mastermind over coffee at Tim Hortons in St. Andrews on Feb. 24, 2009.

“I tell Savita Singh, ‘I think it was a set-up,’ ” the officer testified.

He said he offered Savita Singh-Murray this explanation for why, on Dec. 4, 2008, the Ontario Provincial Police stopped a tractor-trailer headed toward Niagara Falls with a married couple from Guyana hoping to join family in New York City.

The report noted that it was indeed a part of an RCMP investigation called Operation Jada.

The Ontario police arrested the driver and passenger, both RCMP officers acting as part of Operation Jada, and the Guyanese couple. They seized C$4,750 and US$1,700 in cash.

On May 13, 2009, the RCMP charged four people with conspiring with others to encourage or induce aliens to enter the United States illegally between May 5, 2007, and May 11, 2009.

Savita Singh-Murray, then 43, from outside St. Stephen, Joseph Vaughn Murray, then 71, of Fredericton, and Mohamed Habin Yusef, then 53, and Ravindra Hariprasad, then 36, both of Scarborough, Ont., have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are standing trial.

The Telegraph-Journal said that in court yesterday the officer who was in the truck passenger seat identified the cash that he said a man known to him as “Turkey” handed to him in a van in a Scarborough-area truck stop earlier Dec. 4. In court, he identified Hariprasad as the man he knew as Turkey.

Earlier the officer also identified Yusef the man he was told was Singh-Murray’s brother-in-law “John,” who stood outside the van while the officer counted the money. The Guyanese couple sat in back.

The person on the passenger side and another undercover operator who testified earlier met Singh-Murray in St. Andrews to offer explanations how the Guyanese pair was arrested.

“Miss Singh says, ‘I don’t know who to believe,'” the officer testified yesterday.

The undercover officer suggested to her that Turkey was the “rat” who tipped off the cops.

A total of seven witnesses testified during the first week of the trial, the report said. It resumes May 9.

In St. Andrews on Feb. 24, 2009, Singh-Murray said another contact got arrested for smuggling cocaine from Colombia in a shipping container with hot sauce through Saint John, the officer testified. In December 2008, two large shipments of cocaine hidden among pepper sauce bottles were detained. One was held in New Brunswick and a Guyanese man was held in Canada. Another was intercepted in the US Virgin Islands.

The witness said that Singh-Murray also talked of returning to Guyana to set up her own network,

“She told us there were two more people ready to go,” the officer testified.

“She told us that she was not dealing with John any more but she has another contact.”

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