Port officers testify in $550M cocaine-in-lumber trial

 As the trial of four men accused of trafficking $550 million in cocaine found in dressed lumber continued yesterday, two officers who examined a portion of dressed lumber intended for shipment to the United States testified.

On trial are biker Stephen Vieira, motor racers Tazim Gafoor and his son Nazim Gafoor and former drug enforcement officer Sherwayne De Abreu. They were charged after CANU conducted a raid and found the drugs concealed in dressed lumber on May 12th, 2017. The cocaine was reportedly stashed in lumber at a sawmill at Lookout, East Bank Essequibo, which belonged to Narine Lall, for whom an arrest warrant has been issued.

Each officer in his respective evidence-in-chief testified before Magistrate Rochelle Liverpool at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court to having examined lumber presented to them by Vieira on May 11th, 2017. The court heard that Vieira had on May 10th requested to schedule an examination of the lumber on the same day, however, he did not show up and so the examination was cancelled.

It was noted, however, that Vieira showed up the office of the Joint Port Patrol Unit at John Fernandes Wharf on the following day to schedule another examination and that the two officers along with Vieira traveled to the GNIC wharf on Lombard Street, where they met Sherwin De Abreu, who was at the time employed as a drug enforcement officer with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), and another officer.

The officers further testified to having examined pieces of lumber from two bundles of wood offloaded from the truck in the presence of Vieira and the other officers, including De Abreu.

The first officer would have told the court that Vieira subsequently communicated that the the remainder of the shipment would not be arriving since the truck transporting it had encountered mechanical issues. As a result, the officer said the examination was discontinued due to security reasons.

According to the officer, he then left and went back to his office at the John Fernandes Wharf, where later that afternoon he received directions from the Deputy Head of CANU, who instructed him to return to GNIC to secure the lumber.

He went on to explain that following arrangements made with workers of the wharf, the lumber was moved to a secure location, where it stayed until the arrival of the Deputy Head several hours later.

Meanwhile, under-cross examination by attorney Latchmie Rahamat, the officer accepted that none of the documents presented by Vieira for the lumber had been signed by him and that the shipper’s name as stated by the document was given as Naraine Lall. The officer also accepted Rahamat’s suggestion that he did not see Vieira fill out the form in his presence.

Rahamat, in her cross-examination of the other officer, also suggested that the entirety of the articles that had arrived on that day had not been examined by them, a suggestion he accepted.

While under cross-examination by Rahamat, both officers also agreed that they did not find any narcotics or anything suspicious during the examination of lumber.

The trial is scheduled to continue today.

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