Two Guyanese men were on Saturday arraigned in a Brooklyn, New York Federal Court on suspicion of smuggling some 20 kilograms of cocaine that was stashed in frozen fish, which was shipped to Miami via Suriname and later transported to New York.
The men Triston Daniels, 32, and Troy Gonsalves, 33, have since been placed on US$150,000 bail each, the New York Daily News reported yesterday.
Last week Wednesday, United States Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers seized the frozen fish which had the drugs concealed in them, the Daily News reported CPB special agent Ryan Varrone as stating.
The shipment of fish was then filleted and the cocaine, said to have a street value of US$600,000, was removed but the fish replaced. The fish was subsequently transported, by a truck, to a storage facility in Queens, New York where agents kept surveillance, Varrone also reported to the courts.
The Guyanese duo, showed up on Friday, in a van, collected the shipment and drove to another storage facility in Brooklyn where they were arrested as they unloaded the van.
The agent’s statement said that Gonsalves admitted that Daniels told him that the shipment contained drugs.
According to court papers seen by Stabroek News, the unidentified importer of the fish is located in Queens and was previously associated with a shipment of 82 kilos of cocaine from this country that was seized at the Miami airport in February.
According to the court documents, Daniels gave oral consent for agents to search his phone. The agents observed that on May 4th, 2016, the day the cocaine shipment arrived in the United States, Daniels’ phone received multiple calls from the consignee’s phone. The agents further noted that Daniels received calls from the consignee’s telephone on May 6, 2016 which correlated with the period when the defendants were retrieving the shipment at the Brooklyn storage facility.
The court documents also said that Gonsalves stated that he owned the van and was to be paid to help retrieve the shipment. He further stated that Daniels had told him that the shipment “contained some kind of drug”.
Head of Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU), James Singh told Stabroek News yesterday that his agency was not involved in the bust but that he has since asked his Suriname counterparts to share whatever information, in the event CANU is needed to pursue an investigation from this end.