Linden exporter charged over nearly 400lbs charcoal cocaine haul

Exporter Collin Prescott, whom a court was told is a father of 29 children, was yesterday charged over almost 400 pounds of cocaine that were discovered packed in bags of charcoal in a container at Silver Hill, Soesdyke-Linden Highway.

After police received information which led them to conduct a search on a stockpile of charcoal in Linden, the man was arrested and charged with trafficking in narcotics. He was remanded to prison.

Prescott, 58, of Silver Hill, appeared before the Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court and denied a charge that he had in his possession 178 kilogrammes—equivalent to 392 pounds—of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

Collin Prescott
Collin Prescott

Attorney Euclin Gomes represented Prescott and sought bail for the man, while submitting there were special reasons for the court to consider.

Gomes said Prescott buys charcoal to export and the cocaine was found in a stockpile in a yard. He argued that that there was insufficient evidence to establish the cocaine as having been in the possession of his client and he noted that these facts will be tested during the trial.

However, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) Prosecutor Oswald Massiah firmly objected to bail.

CANU agents, he said, received information which led them to Prescott’s stockpile of charcoal to conduct a search. Prescott buys charcoal from persons in the area, the prosecutor added as he explained that the cocaine was disguised to appear to look like charcoal and was placed in six separate packs and concealed in the heap.

Massiah added that the shape differed from the actual charcoal and although it was immersed in the crumbs of the charcoal, it stood out due to this fact.

Bail was refused and the matter was transferred to the Linden Magistrate’s Court for April 15.

A statement from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Tuesday said based on information received from the Port Control Unit (PCU) of the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC), a joint examination was conducted on the charcoal shipment, which was scheduled to be exported to the United States after it was flagged for 100% examination on March 11, 2015.

The shipment was scheduled for examination on March 13, at Silver Hill, in the presence of the GRA’s Goods Examination Unit (GEU) and the PCU. However, the statement said that the exporter did not present the consignment for examination on the scheduled date as he claimed he was experiencing “unforeseen difficulties.”

As a result, the examination was rescheduled for March 30. The GRA said on that date, a team consisting of officers from its Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) and the PCU went to Silver Hill to conduct the examination.

“During the examination, officers observed four strange objects in one of the bags which did not [conform] to the description of the charcoals that were declared for export. As the objects were probed, a white powdery substance emanated. A field test was carried out on the substance in the presence of the exporter and [it] tested positive for cocaine,” it noted.

The examination process was immediately halted and the exporter was cautioned and detained. CANU was contacted and told of the discovery.

The GRA said that around 2,900 bags were secured in two 40ft containers to be inspected due to the volume of goods and security concerns raised.

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