CANU inquiry still to begin

The Board of Inquiry (BoI)  set up to investigate claims by self-confessed drug trafficker Barry Dataram about the alleged involvement of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) in the drug trade and corruption is yet to start its work, sources say.

The BoI, which is headed by retired Brigadier Bruce Lovell, was scheduled to start its work on April 1.

Barry Dataram
Barry Dataram

Sources have told Stabroek News that Lovell is currently out of the country and will return shortly, at which time the inquiry will begin.

When Stabroek News had contacted Lovell about his appointment and the Terms of Reference (ToR), he referred all questions to the Ministry of Presidency. This newspaper has been unsuccessful in acquiring the information being sought with respect to the inquiry.

It is unclear whether the ToR have been finalised.

Dataram, during an interview with HGPTV Channel 67’s Nightly News that was aired on February 29, accused a high ranking CANU official of being involved in the drug trade and added that the rank would take as much as $10 million to allow cocaine to leave the country.

He also said that drug lords would pay $5 million before the shipment and the remainder afterward.

Dataram also alleged that the majority of the drugs seized by CANU returns to the streets. He said that he knew of this because of his involvement and his friends’ involvement in the trade.

“I know what is going on in the streets… I know what is going on in CANU… them is the enemies and they have to know that just like how they got things on me I get things on them,” he said.

Dataram admitted that he is involved in the drug trade but said he has never been convicted on a criminal charge.

CANU’s head James Singh subsequently denied the allegations and called on Dataram to provide sworn statements for past and ongoing investigations.

Singh, in a press release in response to the allegations, suggested a link between Dataram’s allegations and what it considered to be his “unease” over the commencement of his trial for the alleged possession of a large quantity of cocaine that was found concealed in shrimp at his Diamond house.

Dataram, his wife and two friends, who were held during a raid of the Diamond Housing Scheme property, are charged with possession of 284 pounds of cocaine for trafficking.

It was members of the National Security Committee (NSC) who made the decision to set up the BoI.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has already said that he does not believe the claims.

“I disbelieve all of them but that’s my opinion. It’s like Pablo Escobar saying that the Drug Enforcement Agency is not a good thing because, of course, he has interests. But indeed we have to pay attention to what was said, to clear it up and I want to believe that an inquiry would be the best way to deal with it,” he said while making it clear that he will await the findings of the inquiry.

It is unclear who will be interviewed but reports reaching this newspaper are that Singh and Dataram are on the list. Dataram, this newspaper was told, will be asked to repeat his allegations before the BoI, as part of its investigation.

This newspaper was unable to ascertain where any contact has been made with Dataram as it pertains to appearing before the BoI..

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