Stephen Vieira, four others charged over Zeelugt cocaine

Five persons, including well-known motorbike racer Stephen Vieira and race car driver Nazim Gafoor, will today be charged over the almost 85 kilos of cocaine that were unearthed in dressed lumber at Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo, almost three weeks ago.

The men are expected to appear in the Leonora Magistrate’s Court this morning, when Vieira, Nazim Gafoor, his father Tazim Gafoor, and Sherwayne DeAbreu will be charged jointly.

A separate charge will be instituted against Narine Lall, who is yet to be apprehended, although the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) has issued a wanted bulletin for him.

Stabroek News was reliably informed that an application will be made for an arrest warrant to be issued for Lall. He will be charged separately to ensure that there is no delay in the trial of the others due to his absence.

On May 12, CANU conducted a raid at Zeelugt during which 84.986 kgs of cocaine, with a street value of over $550 million, was found in dressed lumber.

The agency had previously said in a statement that the drugs were found at the Lot 227 Zeelugt premises of Hakeem Mohamed. The drugs, the statement had said, were found in hollow lumber bound for the United States.

A truck was hired to pick up and transport the lumber from Lall’s Sawmill at Lookout, East Bank Essequibo, to a wharf at Georgetown.

Mohamed, of Zeelugt, and the Gafoors of Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara, were held following the discovery but were released as CANU was not yet ready to lay charges.

However, the agency had issued wanted bulletins for Tazim, Vieira and Narine Lall. Tazim was arrested on May 15 at Parika, East Bank Essequibo, while Vieira was arrested during the same week at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri after returning to the country on a flight from Jamaica. Vieira was subsequently released. A friend of Vieira was also taken to CANU headquarters, where she was questioned before being released.

Last week, CANU had announced that it was seeking international assistance in an effort to retrieve information that has been “wiped” from a Digital Video Recording (DVR) device that it took into its possession as part of the probe.

In a separate statement, the agency had said that the device was retrieved at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Bank Demerara from Nazim Gafoor.

It had, however, noted that the device “has been discovered to have been wiped and as such CANU is seeking international assistance in retrieving the data that may have been therein.”

Up to last evening, it was unclear whether the agency was successful in this process.

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