Key witness denies fabricating story

Cocaine trial of racers

Sherwayne De Abreu

The trial of the four men charged in relation to the $550 million in cocaine discovered hidden in lumber continued yesterday with the cross-examination of the main witness, Hakeem Mohammed by three defence attorneys

Well-known motorbike racer Stephen Vieira, 33, of Middle and Cummings streets, Georgetown; along with Sherwayne De Abreu, 35, of Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara; and motor racers Tazim Gafoor, 45, and his son, Nazim Gafoor, 20, of Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara were charged jointly on May 31.

The men are accused of having in their possession 84.9 kilos of cocaine between March 1 and May 12, 2017 at Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo.

During yesterday’s hearing, Mohamed was cross-examined by attorneys Latchmi Rahamat, Nigel Hughes and Everton Singh-Lammy.

Rahamat in her  cross-examination of Mohamed suggested that he had fabricated the story he gave to officers of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) in a bid to avoid being charged for the cocaine discovery.

This, the attorney said was evident in the change in the story which he told to the CANU officers in his first statement, where he claimed to have no knowledge of who was behind it, or how, the cocaine ended up in the dressed lumber, to him implicating the four men as having played a role in the crime.

However, Mohamed denied the allegation before noting that he had only denied having knowledge in the beginning because he had lied to protect the men.

He also refuted the suggestion made by Rahamat that he will say anything CANU asked him to say, just to avoid being charged and possibly face jail time if found guilty.

Attorney Hughes followed a similar line of questioning, as he asked Mohamed whether after being the only individual taken into police custody after the drug bust that he decided to “reason” with the CANU officer.

However, the witness noted that he could not recall if he was frustrated with the situation, but that he made no attempts to do anything of that nature.

In response to questions asked about how he was planning to get out of the situation at the time, Mohamed told the court that he believed that by telling the “truth” of what had happened that he would not have been charged.

The case is expected to be called again tomorrow at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court where it is currently being heard by Magistrate Rochelle Liverpool.

On Tuesday, Mohamed led by CANU’s Prosecutor, Konyo Sandiford detailed the events leading up to the bust, to the court. Mohamed told the court that he assisted Tazim in hiding the parcels of cocaine in the wood as it was being prepared to be shipped out of the country.

He had also stated that that on the day of the bust by CANU, the truck

containing the cocaine-stuffed lumber was parked at his residence.

On May 12, CANU conducted a raid and found the drugs concealed in dressed lumber at Mohamed’s premises at Lot 227 Zeelugt.

The cocaine which carries a street value of over $550 million, was reportedly stashed in lumber at a sawmill at Lookout, East Bank Essequibo, belonging to Narine Lall, for whom an arrest warrant has been issued.

Reports are that a truck was hired to pick up and transport the lumber from Lall’s Sawmill to a wharf at Georgetown.