Stabroek News news item, Monday 05 January 200
Cocaine coming mainly via Venezuela -CANU
Published: January 5, 2009 in News
Pepper sauce, furniture probes intensifying
Most of the cocaine being exported from Guyana is likely coming from
Venezuela via the Pomeroon, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) says and
the nexus between that trade and gun-running is increasingly clear, sources
In the wake of three large busts in Canada, the US and the US Virgin Islands
of cocaine-filled shipments which originated from Guyana, questions have
been raised about where the drugs are coming from and about the repackaging
CANU sources tell Stabroek News that around 60% of the cocaine that enters
Guyana comes from Vene-zuela and transits through the Pomeroon. There is a
lot of unmonitored boat traffic between Guyana and Venezuela which also
accommodates gun-running. Drug trafficking, transport of guns and smuggling
of fuel are intertwined in these areas and complement each other.
A portion of the drugs that enters the country from Venezuela goes farther
east to Suriname by go-fast boats and there is an easy convertibility
between the drug and gun-smuggling trades. For instance, in Suriname the
going rate today for two Chinese-made AK-47s is a kilo of cocaine.
Questions linger over how and where the exporters in Guyana are packaging
their drugs in these big shipments.
On December 8, officers found 276 kilos of high-quality cocaine at the Port
of Saint John, New Brunswick, aboard a ship, Tropic Canada.
The Toronto Star reported investigators as saying that the vessel in New
Brunswick was confirmed to have been carrying 77-79 per cent pure cocaine,
which was found inside the cardboard dividers of boxes of hot sauce. They
removed all but two kilos of the cocaine and performed a controlled delivery
of the container to its original destination in Etobicoke, Ontario. It was
received by the owner of the company, Mahendrapaul Doodnauth, who unloaded
the boxes at a rented storage facility on Rexdale Boulevard in Toronto. As a
result, Doodnauth, of Toronto, was charged with importing cocaine,
conspiracy to import cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of
A second major drug shipment was traced back to Guyana after US federal
agents on December 24 seized 100 kilos of cocaine found inside pepper sauce
cartons aboard a ship in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The US agents had
been tipped off by Canada.
Then on the heels of two major pepper sauce busts, customs authorities at
the Port of Miami, on December 29 acting on a tip off unearthed 373 pounds
of cocaine hidden in furniture aboard a vessel, whose last stop was in
CANU sources yesterday said that both investigations are making headway. In
relation to the pepper sauce shipments, a significant amount of information
has been exchanged with Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police and CANU is
preparing to reel in more suspects. One of the suspects that CANU issued a
bulletin for, Indarpaul Doodnauth, made himself available to the agency for
questioning. Doodnauth, an East Coast-based businessman is the brother of
Mahendrapaul Doodnauth, the man held by Canadian authorities in connection
with both shipments of the pepper sauce cocaine. Canada is proceeding with
its investigation and staying in touch with local law enforcement agencies.
Another man sought by CANU, Reginald Rodrigues, who was thought to be the
shipper of the pepper consignment seized in Canada went underground after
the bust became public and was able to evade an attempt to arrest him here.
It is believed he has since fled to Suriname via the backtrack.
Another man wanted for questioning in relation to the pepper sauce, Orlando
Watson has been in touch with the authorities here but is yet to turn
himself in. He is thought to be connected to the second shipment. CANU
sources say they are actively seeking two other businessmen who participated
in the pepper sauce cocaine shipment and based on information from their
lawyer they may turn themselves in for questioning. The two are associated
with a business in Georgetown.
CANU sources say that the pepper sauce shipments were financed by a coterie
of shady characters and persons with criminal antecedents who were looking
to make a whopping profit from their Christmas operation. With the crushing
of the operation some of the suspects are not only being sought by CANU but
also by their financiers.
A suspect in the shipment of the cocaine furniture to Miami, Nymrod Singh,
was nabbed in Bartica on Saturday after his photograph appeared in the
newspapers. He spent his second day in custody yesterday and sources say he
is saying that an acquaintance asked him to ship the furniture to Miami.
The furniture was allegedly picked up by Singh on November 1 and next
appeared containerized on November 25 at a city wharf for loading onto the
MV Rio Para.
This bust involved 194 packages valued at US$5.5M which was concealed in 72
pieces of furniture packed into the container.
According to NBC6.NET, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers
inspecting the containers at the Miami seaport were alerted by a CBP K-9 to
a specific container loaded with furniture.
The officers, attached to the Anti-Terrorism Contra-band Enforcement Team,
proceeded to examine the furniture and discovered three packages concealed
within one of the pieces of furniture. One of the packages was tested by the
officers and the substance was positive for cocaine.
More packages of the drugs were discovered in 71 other pieces of furniture.
According to the Canadian press, the pepper sauce busts are part of a major
anti-narcotics initiative dubbed "Project Falcon," which sought to identify
the sources of the criminal network that transported cocaine to street gang
members and drug abusers in the Durham region.
The local investigations have also unearthed weaknesses in customs
operations which enable the illicit shipments.
In one of the pepper shipments a fake Taxpayer Identification Number was
used and the name of a non-existent company provided. Documents for the
second pepper shipment appeared to be a copy of that provided for the first.
In relation to the furniture shipment, it was discovered that containers are
being packed and sealed at locations where there isn't adequate inspection.
These containers are then taken to the wharves and shipped without any
further checks of their cargo.