Alleged JFK bird smuggler surrenders to police

Gregory Narendra Ramkellawan

The individual who is accused of smuggling 70 live finches inside hair rollers from Guyana into the US and later deported was questioned by the police, Crime Chief Lyndon Alves told Stabroek News yesterday.

Alves in a telephone interview said the suspect, Gregory Narendra Ramkellawan, 40, of Lot 48 Good Hope, East Coast Demerara surrendered  in the company of his lawyer subsequent to a wanted bulletin being issued last week.

The Crime Chief noted that the man was questioned then taken into custody and investigators are currently putting together a case file after which, they will be seeking legal advice.

Alves said the advice will determine whether or not they will institute criminal charges.

Ramkellawan, was wanted for questioning in connection with the unlawful trade of wildlife (birds) committed on December 8th at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Timehri, the wanted bulletin issued on January 10 stated.

The New York Post reported that federal authorities had busted a Guyanese man at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York when he tried to enter the country with the birds. The man, who was not named, had just arrived at the Queens airport on a flight from Georgetown on December 8 when US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists stopped him.

During the course of inspection, the specialists discovered 70 finches concealed in orange hair rollers inside a black duffel bag. The traveler was not admitted to the US and was instead returned to Guyana, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said.

The report also stated that the birds were turned over to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services.

Spokesperson for the CJIA, Aneka Edwards told Stabroek News that their investigations are still ongoing.  She said that they are still to determine where security was breached. The curlers should have been a red flag for the security and custom officers processing the passenger for the flight, she said.

Like Chief Executive Officer of the airport Ramesh Ghir, Edwards said that they too had learnt of the smuggling through the press and it caught them by surprise.

When Stabroek News reached out to the CJIA for a comment yesterday on the status of their investigation, Edwards could not be reached.

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