Trio faced with smuggling, obstruction charges after shooting of GRA officers at Bee Hive

Three of the men held after Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) enforcement officers came under gunfire during anti-smuggling operation at Bee Hive, East Coast Demerara (ECD) last week, were faced with charges on Thursday.

Ravindra Ramdeo, of Lot 217 Section D ‘Nonpareil,’ East Coast Demerara (ECD), and Stephon and Trevor Motielal, of Lot 30 Green Field, Bee Hive, appeared before Magistrate Peter Hugh at the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court, where they were read the charges.

Ramdeo, a minibus driver, was charged with knowingly dealing with smuggled goods with intent to defraud GRA, while the Motielals were each charged with obstructing the enforcement officers from performing their duties and or aiding and abetting persons who shot at the officers.

The men denied all the charges. As a result, Ramdeo was released on $200,000 bail and the Motielals were released on $400,000 bail each. The matters were subsequently transferred to the Cove and John Magistrate’s Court, when they will be called again on June 26th.

The trio and Andrew Motielal, a resident of Lot 11 – 12 Helena, Mahaica, ECD, were arrested by GRA in wake of the shooting. However, Andrew was a no-show at court on Thursday.

Stabroek News was told that a police investigation is still ongoing into the shooting, which left two enforcement officers, Ricky Chowbay and Roopnarine Singh, injured.

On the evening of Thursday, June 7th, three Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) Officers were the target of gunfire during an anti-smuggling operation in Bee Hive, ECD. Chowbay and Singh sustained injuries and were subsequently treated at a private hospital.

This newspaper was told that acting on intelligence, Chowbay and Singh went to Bee Hive to search a house for uncustomed goods when they came under fire around 9.50 pm. The GRA, in a statement issued last Friday, had said a team of officers coordinated an approach to intercept a motor vessel and motor vehicles suspected to be transporting uncustomed alcoholic beverages and foreign chicken at Bee Hive.

During the exercise, GRA had said the officers observed a white Toyota car turning into the street and stopping in front the house that was under surveillance. “The occupants of the motor vehicle exited and proceeded to maliciously shoot at the LEID officers with an undisclosed number and caliber of firearms,” the statement had said. As a result, the GRA noted that the officers were forced to take “evasive action” and defensively returned fire. “The perpetrators then retreated to their motor vehicle and sped away, which allowed the LEID officers to regroup and exit the location safely,” the statement added. It was at this point, it said, that the officers realised that they were shot. The shooting was immediately reported to the police.

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