A Guyanese man has been busted by the authorities in the United States for being part of a cocaine trafficking ring operating out of the JFK International Airport in New York.
Jermaine Horatio, who was charged last Thursday, was held after investigators monitored his communication with a co-operating witness. The ten-month-long investigation saw a bogus package of cocaine being placed in a suitcase in Guyana and transported on a flight to the US, where it was intercepted by investigators on arrival, suggesting that the US agents may have been collaborating with authorities in Guyana during the investigation. However, no collaboration is specifically mentioned in court documents seen by Stabroek News.
Horatio was remanded last Thursday by Magistrate Judge Steven Tiscione on a charge of knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully conspiring and attempting to conspire with others to import cocaine into the US. He made another court appearance on Monday, when he was further remanded after his lawyers presented a bail package that the court found insufficient.
US Homeland Security Agent Jerry Dinapoli, in court documents, deposed that since September, 2016, law enforcement agents have been investigating a narcotics importation conspiracy involving certain individuals who either have worked or are working at the JFK airport.
He said Horatio, who was born in Guyana, previously worked at the airport. He added that since February, 2016, through a co-operating source (CS), investigators were privy to multiple conversations he had with the source. The CS, according to the court documents, knew of Horatio’s involvement in criminal activity and that he was involved in a scheme to import narcotics into the US through JFK. From February, the CS and Horatio were in constant contact through WhatsApp, text messages and telephone calls, all of which were monitored by federal agents.
In one instance, the two discussed the importation of a shipment and the CS sent a photograph of a “sham” load of cocaine that was placed in a suitcase aboard a flight from Guyana to JFK and it was intercepted by investigators without the knowledge of the baggage handlers. Horatio later told the CS that his associates were unable to locate the suitcase with the cocaine.
Subsequently, Horatio sent the CS a text and asked him if he was serious. “My ppl want to know if ya’ll serious or not,” he asked. The CS said they were serious.
The two later discussed another shipment and on May 19 the CS sent another photograph of a “sham” cocaine shipment and informed that it would be placed in the rear cargo hold. Horatio, however, said that he should have been contacted earlier since he needed time for his people to be ready. Nevertheless, he added that he was going to try to reach his people so they could look for the shipment.
On May 20, they communicated again:
CS to Horatio: Mi man want to know if u gonna handl the work he cancel yesterday bc u not ready.
Horatio to CS: Yo you can’t call me same day n say this thing coming I have to put this together. Not fair to my pp.
CS to Horatio: You I say to you something coming d other day for Friday. I think you hear me so I tell the ppl to get the work ready. Now we try again I tell the man was a misunderstanding.
Horatio to CS: OK. I tell you guys I had to pass paper to these men last time upfront. I did so never get it back.
CS to Horatio: We send the 5 n the other soon. We good.
Horatio to CS: Again you booking them and nun for them. These men good at what they work and they can’t get treated like that straight. Not talking about how much you send they can clean that up. But u guys set a deal to them. N never stand to it.
CS to Horatio: The man say they getting paid good $$$$ when the job is done u get everything I promised.
CS to Horatio: U misunderstand. U say 30% I say yes $30%. When U give d 5. I give you the 30.
On June 22, the two communicated again and the CS told Horatio that he was set and asked him if he was ready and he responded “yea.”
The documents do not say under what circumstances Horatio was arrested or whether any money was paid over for the “sham” shipment.