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Trio remanded in connection with CJIA cocaine bust

Gregory Loo, Anthony Thomas and Ravindra Singh being escorted after appearing in court.

Two Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) officers and a security agent attached to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) were Friday refused bail for allegedly conspiring with others to ship 11.4 kilos of cocaine via the airport last weekend.

It is alleged that on Saturday July 27, the trio , Anthony Thomas , Ravindra Singh , called “Ravi” and Gregory Loo, a former national footballer, conspired with others to ship the illicit substance via the airport. They appeared before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court and were all refused bail .The trio pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Thomas of Newmarket and Main Streets in the city  and Loo , age 30 of First Street, Herstelling, East Bank Demerara are employed by the GRA as customs officers while Singh, 19 , of Company Path, West Ruimveldt  is attached to the Security Innovation Concept firm at the CJIA.

According to CANU prosecutor Oswald Massiah, the number two defendant , Singh, approached an airline employee on July 20 with a proposal to generate a baggage tag with an induced payment of US$2500. The tag was generated, however, the airline employee became fearful and requested that the tag be returned but  this was never done.

He said that on the day in question, Thomas, who is the number one defendant, was milling around the airport even though his shift had ended earlier that day. Massiah said Singh exchanged words with an air side vehicle operator to have a bag placed on the vehicle.

Loo he noted had reported for duty that day, and according to him, acted as the “look out” having been offered monies as part of the arrangement. He alleged that it was Loo who took the bag containing the illegal substance , which were packed in 10 blocks or parcels, from his office and placed it on the baggage cart for it to be checked.

An alert airport security officer observed what had transpired and after conducting a search, the drug was discovered. CANU then took possession of the bag and conducted its investigations.

Attorney- at- law, Nigel Hughes who appeared on behalf of Thomas, told the court that his client had been a customs officer for some 10 years. He said that the drug was not found in his client’s possession and CANU had not indicated any information to this extent . He argued too during an exchange with Massiah that the anti-narcotic agency had no admissible evidence to implicate Thomas.

 Massiah noted, however, that the agency was still conducting investigations, which may include photographic evidence. He said the process would take some two weeks .He added that Thomas could not be located soon after the drugs were discovered and according to him ,  the father of five was taken in to custody by police soon after his photograph was published in the national newspapers. Hughes said the charge against his client was a bailable one and on such grounds requested bail.

Attorney Abiola Wong-Inniss , who appeared on behalf of Singh , told the court that the airline employee who was held in detention with the trio up until Friday morning should have been present at court. She said that the case against her client, whom she noted lives with his grandparents, were biased given her client is not guilty and unaware of the allegation made against him.

Loo’s attorney, James Bond also requested bail but the Chief Magistrate later refused same and transferred the matter to the Providence Magistrate’s Court for August 5th.

There have been several instances in recent years in which persons made attempts to ship illegal drugs via the country’s international airport. There have been suggestions that the security arrangements at the airport be revisited given the frequency of drug busts and there is a perception that corrupt airport staff are operating as part of a drug ring.