A tip-off from local anti-narcotics agencies to their counterparts in Barbados about the ‘suspicious’ movement of a boat led to a $1.3B (US$6.5M) cocaine bust in which three Guyanese were charged. They are among five persons due to appear in court on the island today in relation to the drug find.
According to the Barbados Nation, the five men were charged by police on the island last week in connection with the cocaine discovery, which was made last Thursday during a sting operation undertaken by the Drug Squad.
The cocaine reportedly arrived in the island by boat and Stabroek News understands that the vessel had its origins here.
The five men, Guyanese Andrew McHennon, 30, of Georgetown, Surain Persad, 44, of West Bank Demerara , and Davanand Outar, 34, of East Bank Essequibo along with Barbadians, Michael Forde, 30, and Ryan Noel, 38 are to appear in the District ‘A’ Magistrates Court on the island this morning to answer charges of cocaine possession, trafficking and trafficking with intent to supply.
Forde is also being charged with keeping premises for the purpose of trafficking drugs. He was reportedly held at the Grantley Adams International Airport on Friday morning as he attempted to leave Barbados.
The powdered form of the substance was found concealed in a number of wooden pallets at a Sunset Crest, St James residence in the north-western part of the island last Thursday.
According to a Guyanese source, the planned trip by the owners of a small vessel which had been bought by a local businessman from a Barbadian company earlier this year, and which was making its second trip to the Caribbean was ‘suspicious.’ He said that the businessman had been linked to the drug trade.
The vessel made its maiden voyage to the Caribbean from these shores one month ago and officials of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) as well as the drug enforcement unit of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) had undertaken an extensive search exercise on the boat prior to its departure, as the route cited by the operator was not seen as feasible for a cargo ship.
On March 23, the vessel was preparing for its second trip to the Caribbean, with intended stops at Barbados and St Maarten where the businessman has a depot, and CANU, with assistance from the GRA carried out a second search of the vessel. It was laden with hundreds of pumpkins, several bags of limes and other produce, but the search exercise came up empty.
The inspection was aborted after the team had cut open a few dozen pumpkins as well as made an extensive examination of the hull, cabins and deck in the search for illicit substances to no avail.
According to a source at the GRA, suspicions were rife at the time, and as such the trip was flagged by CANU and the GRA who alerted the authorities in Barbados and St Maarten to their suspicions.
The vessel departed from a Water Street wharf at around 7pm on the evening of March 23 with five Guyanese on board, and it reportedly travelled to Barbados where it arrived two days later. The source noted that officials of the two local drug enforcement agencies here believed that the operators of the vessel had planned to make certain arrangements while on the high seas. The current location of the vessel is uncertain.
In recent times, a number of drug busts of substances including cocaine and marijuana with origins here have been made by the authorities in foreign jurisdictions.
The most recent involved the discovery of $700M worth of cocaine which was found hidden in a shipment of logs by the Jamaican authorities.
drug bust on island
According to the Nation, last week’s drugs seizure is recorded as being the second biggest for the island following the conviction and sentencing of six Guyanese, including two women, for trafficking over $30 million worth of cocaine and marijuana into the island on June 4, 2009.
The six were found guilty after police caught them in a house in Bay Gardens, St Michael, and were handed down prison terms ranging from between ten to 30 years. The drugs had been shipped from Guyana.
Head of the Drug Squad, Superintendent Grafton Phillips, said the bust was an indication that Barbados was still being targeted as a transshipment point for the illegal activity.