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Guyanese law enforcement agencies not contacted in break-up of Italian drug mafia

Guyanese law enforcement agencies on Wednesday said they have not been contacted or involved in the dismantling of an international ring that had been planning to smuggle cocaine from Guyana to Italy.

Deputy Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud said he has asked his subordinates to check on reports that the New York-Italian drug ring was connected to Guyana. While Guyana has not been involved specifically in this operation, Persaud opined that local involvement in other drug seizures might have been part of the larger dragnet that culminated on Tuesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said one of the defendants- 44-year old Franco Lupoi of Brooklyn, New York- set into motion a plot to transport 500 kilograms of cocaine, concealed in pineapples and fish, in shipping containers from Guyana to Calabria, Italy. Foreign news reports said email between the gang members and Guyanese canning company also helped to expose the plot. “In conversations recorded by the undercover agent, the conspirators discussed their connections to Mexican drug cartels operating in Guyana, South America, and plotted to transport 500 kilograms of cocaine internationally, hidden in shipments of frozen fish or pineapples,” said the FBI.

Other high-ranking drug agents said they have not been contacted or involved in the transnational operation.

Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee on Monday said he has asked the law enforcement agencies to provide him with a full report. “…Whatever information they have available and they can make it available to us, we are happy to know it because maybe if there are links to Guyana in the context of international cooperation we can join with them in dismantling it in this country,” he said.

Rohee has previously said that there was insufficient evidence to go after drug lords.

The Home Affairs Minister welcomed the break up of the Italian Mafia-like syndicate

Previously, a shipment from Guyana en route to Italy was seized in Malaysia, containing $7 million dollars’ worth of cocaine, hidden in cans labelled to contain pineapples and coconut milk.

The seven arrested in New York are: Franco Lupoi, 44; Dominic Ali, 55; Charles Centaro (a.k.a. “Charlie Pepsi”), 50; Alexander Chan, 46; Christos Fasarakis, 42; Raffaele Valente (a.k.a. “Lello”), 42; and Jose Alfredo Garcia (a.k.a. “Freddy”), 47. They are facing various drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms charges. Lupoi, Chan, and Garcia each face a maximum sentence of life in prison; Ali, Centaro, and Fasarakis face 20 years, while Valente faces 10 years.