CANU agent says received instructions from superiors on surveillance of $550M cocaine-in-lumber accused

A Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) agent last Friday testified that he was given specific instructions on who his targets were during the initial stages of an investigation.

The CANU rank (who is not being named for security reasons) made the disclosure when testifying at the trial of Stephen Vieira, 33, Sherwayne De Abreu, 35, Tazim Gafoor, 45, and his son, Nazim Gafoor, 20, over the trafficking of $550 million in cocaine stashed in lumber  at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court.

Vieira, 33, of Middle and Cummings streets, Georgetown; De Abreu, 35, of Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara; and Tazim Gafoor, 45, and his son, Nazim Gafoor, 20, of Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara are accused of having in their possession 84.9 kilogrammes of cocaine between March 1st and May 12th, 2017 at Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo.

When the trial continued last Friday, the CANU rank, under-cross examination by attorney Nigel Hughes, told the court that the targets of his surveillance changed based on instructions from his superiors. At the time, he was responding to a question asked by Hughes as to who his targets were.

The rank said that on April 11th, 2017, he was tasked with locating Vieira in Albouystown at Punt Trench and Cooper Street.

Hughes questioned the purpose of surveillance on the day in question and the rank said they were looking to intercept Vieira. The rank informed the court that after he located Vieira, he informed his superior before returning to CANU headquarters.  He also noted that on April 12th he was tasked with again locating Vieira, who was expected to meet an individual.

The rank further stated that on May 1st, while doing surveillance on Vieira, he saw him meeting Tazim Gafoor.

Hughes asked if he knew what the conversation between the two was about and he responded in the negative.

Hughes then put to the rank that it was not unusual for two persons who are known in the motor racing arena to have a conversation, to which he agreed.

The witness further informed the court that on May 11th, 2017, on High Street, he was tasked with locating Tazim Gafoor, who was speaking to an individual whom he later learned to be De Abreu, a Guyana Revenue Authority Drug Enforcement officer.

Hughes again put to the witness that nothing was suspicious about the meeting between Tazim Gafoor and De Abreu and he agreed.

Hughes along with fellow defence lawyer Glenn Hanoman questioned the absence of photo and video evidence from the alleged surveillance of Vieira and Tazim Gafoor.

The witness in response stated that he was not at all times in a position to take photographic or video evidence as he did not want to risk blowing his cover.

The trial continues on May 11th at 10 am.

Earlier in the trial, the cocaine in lumber exhibits were submitted and accepted by Magistrate Rochelle Liverpool as evidence in the case.

Photographs taken of the discovery were also tendered as evidence during the trial.

On May 12th, 2017, CANU conducted a raid and found the drugs concealed in dressed lumber.

The cocaine 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. A truck was hired to pick up and transport the lumber from Lall’s sawmill to a wharf in Georgetown.


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