Five remanded over Barbados cocaine bust

The five men, including three Guyanese who were charged by the Barbadian authorities in connection with a US$642,000 cocaine bust last week, were yesterday remanded to prison after making an appearance at the Holetown Magistrates’ Court on the island.

The drug bust was made following a tip-off by local anti-narcotics agencies to their counterparts in Barbados about the ‘suspicious’ movement of a boat, which departed these shores two Wednesdays ago.

According to the Barbados Nation, Guyanese Daranand Outar, 32, of East Bank Essequibo and an operations manager on board the vessel ‘MV Caricom,’ Andrew Edwin McLennon, 30, a truck driver, of Georgetown, Surain Persaud, 44, a labourer, of West Bank Demerara, along with Barbadian Ryan O’Neal Howell, a 38-year-old security guard, were not required to plead to charges of possession of 42.8 kilograms of cocaine, possession with intent to supply and trafficking in the drug on March 31.

Barbadian Michael Clarence Forde, 32, was not required to plead to trafficking in the drugs and knowingly permitting the handling of a controlled drug on the same date.

According to the Barbados Nation, the drugs have a street value of $1.284M Barbadian dollars.

Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne remanded the quintet to prison until April 26, when they will reappear in the Holetown Magistrates’ Court.

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 on the island.

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.

A Guyanese source told this newspaper over the weekend that the planned trip by the owners of the ‘MV Caricom,’ was ‘suspicious.’ The vessel had been bought by a local businessman from a Barbadian company earlier this year and it was making its second trip to the Caribbean.

Several weeks ago, the vessel made its maiden voyage to the Caribbean from these shores 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. 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.

The trip was flagged by CANU and the GRA as suspicions were rife at the time and the agencies subsequently alerted the authorities in Barbados and St Maarten of their suspicions.

The vessel departed from the ‘Fertilizer Wharf’ on Water Street, Georgetown 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 vessel is reportedly being held by the Barbadian authorities.

Drugs transported from Guyana continue to be unearthed by authorities in foreign jurisdictions. The most recent case involved the discovery of $700M worth of cocaine, which was found hidden in a shipment of logs by the Jamaican authorities.

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