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Exporter charged with cocaine-in- star apples unearthed in Canada

Charles Anderson

A licensed exporter, who allegedly shipped a quantity of cocaine-laden fruits to Canada more than one year ago, was Friday arraigned on a charge of narco-trafficking.

Charles Anderson of Enterprise, East Coast Demerara pleaded not guilty to the charge when he appeared before City Magistrate, Fabayo Azore.

He is accused of shipping 20.56 kilogrammes of cocaine mostly in star apples to Canada between January 24 and January 25, 2012. The drugs were not found here but were unearthed by Canadian authorities.

cocaine star apples close upCustoms Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) Prosecutor, Oswald Massiah told the court that he was not quite ready to begin the trial. He hinted that witnesses would come from Canada to aid the prosecution’s case.

Anderson, said to be a licensed exporter for several years, was refused bail and remanded to prison until October 14 when he is expected to re-appear in court.

Massiah told the court that Anderson exported a quantity of mangoes, pineapples and star-apples to Canada. He said after the cocaine was found, Canadian authorities transmitted the information to Guyanese authorities and a probe commenced.

He said the accused admitted to transacting the business but said the star apples were given to him by someone whom he identified only by a “call-name.”  Massiah said efforts to locate the person failed and when Anderson was further questioned he said he did not know the person’s telephone number or home address.

The Prosecutor objected to bail on the grounds that the quantity of the substances exceeded one gram and information supplied by the defendant was misleading. “The defendant, if granted his pre-trial liberty, is not likely to attend his trial to ventilate his innocence,” he said.

Defence Lawyer Waldron countered, saying that the basis for the charge was based on “inadmissible hearsay.” He said CANU, Guyana Police Force and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport were mandated to do a 100 percent search on goods leaving through the airport.

“Either CANU is telling us this afternoon that there was some collusion or incompetence that such an amount passed the security,” said Waldron.

The lawyer raised questions about the jurisdiction of the case, saying that the drugs were found in another country.

Waldron denied that Anderson did not cooperate fully. He said two CANU officers were disciplined because they had allegedly communicated to the supplier of the cocaine that Anderson had been cooperating with the investigators. He said that while Anderson was being interviewed in the presence of the Head of CANU James Singh, the accused man’s phone rang and the caller expressed concern that he had been providing information. Waldron said he believed that CANU has since made efforts to trace the number.

Among the lawyer’s grounds for granting bail is that Anderson was evidently not a flight risk because he has remained in Guyana since the commencement of the probe in January 2012 to October 2013 when he was charged.