CANU officer testifies to finding drugs in lumber

Racers cocaine trial

Sherwayne De Abreu

The trial into the $550 million cocaine-in-lumber case continued on Wednesday with the testimony of the officer from the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) who discovered the cocaine stashed in the lumber on the day the bust was made.

Motor biker 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, 2017.

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 Wednesday’s court hearing, the officer (who is not being named for security reasons)  testified to removing a number of parcels suspected to have contained cocaine from 25 pieces of lumber which were  in a truck that was intercepted on May 12, 2017 at Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo.

With regard to the number of parcels retrieved from the lumber, the officer explained that each of the 25 pieces of lumber had inside, an average of 13 parcels laid from end to end.

He noted that the removal of the cocaine was done in the presence of Hakeem Mohamed, at whose residence the truck was parked at the time of the bust, his brother Wasim Mohamed, driver of the truck Shafeek Salim, owner of the truck Mohadeo Khan, and two porters.

The court also heard that samples from each of the parcels were taken and sent to the Guyana Forensic Lab for testing while the bulk of the cocaine was taken to the Guyana Police Force Lab for the packages to be dusted for fingerprints before being lodged with the CANU Storekeeper.

The CANU officer also testified to having conducted surveillance of several persons, including Mark Mohabir called `Polo’, Tazim Gafoor called `Shrimps man’ and Stephen Vieira called `Russy.’ He noted that the surveillance was done over a three-month period beginning February 24, 2017 and ended on May 12, 2017.

In his testimony, the officer included the date, March 28, 2017, when he did surveillance on the Gafoors’ residence at Windsor Forest and said he had seen Tazim and Vieira engaged in conversation on the bridge of the said property.

He also made mention of April 11, 2017 where he did surveillance in Cooper Street, Punt Trench, and Albouystown and had seen Vieira dropping off a package at the home of Mark Mohabir; April 12, where he surveilled the Gafoor’s supermarket at New Rood Vreed-en-Hoop and saw Nazim and Vieira engaged in conversation and again on April 13 at the property in Windsor Forest.

The officer is expected to complete his testimony on April 10 when the case is expected to be called again at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court where the case is being presided over by Magistrate Rochelle Liverpool.

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

The cocaine which carried 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.

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