by Abigail Semple and Denis Chabrol
Drugs baron, Barry Dataram, who has escaped Guyana, was Tuesday fined GYD$164,268,000 and sentenced to 60 months imprisonment for being in possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking more than one year ago- a decision that angered the Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) , James Singh.
“I am very disappointed that his accomplices were set free,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. “I just wished that he was present to face the charge rather than hide. History has proven time and again that the law finally catches you.”
While City Magistrate, Judy Latchman handed down her decision Tuesday morning, the penalty was delayed because the court needed to know the value of the cocaine. The fine is three times the market value for 60 kilogrammes, 840 grammes which is GYD$54, 756,000. The Magistrate found that eight out of the 142 freezer parcels have gone missing and as such decided that these items of evidence have been compromised and bore no weight in court.These parcels have therefore been eliminated from the case as evidence.
The United States (US) had previously failed to extradite Dataram to face cocaine trafficking charges.
Latchman has already issued an arrest warrant for Dataram and his common-law wife, Anjanie Boodnarine, who failed to turn up to court on September 20 and 23 when the Court was expected to hand down its decision on whether there was sufficient evidence. Their bail have been also escheated.
The Head of CANU expressed surprise that Boodnarine, Kevin Charran and Trevor Gouveia were found not guilty although they were on April 16, 2015 at Dataram’s house located at 661 Silver Dam, Fourth Avenue, Diamond Housing Scheme in close proximity to several packets of cocaine at various locations of the house. Evidence showed that 33 parcels of cocaine substance in an upstairs bathroom, 180 pieces in a blue baby tub and 92 pieces in a black garbage bag in the downstairs dining room, and 142 pieces in a freezer with shrimp in the outer yard area.
“The case is one in which there was overwhelming evidence against all of the accused and yet only he (Dataram) is found guilty?,” said Singh.
Magistrate Latchman said earlier Tuesday there was enough evidence against Dataram in his absence, and the Court found no evidence tying Boodnarine, Gouvieia, and Charran to the drugs found at Dataram’s residence. She stated however, that based on the facts and the physical evidence presented in court against him, Dataram has been found guilty.
Law enforcement agents said Dataram, who was on bail pending the outcome of the case, has fled Guyana to neighbouring Suriname with forged travel documents in his possession.
Referring to claims by Dataram that CANU was involved in the seizure and re-circulation of cocaine on the streets and the alleged facilitation of drug trafficking by CANU agents, the Head of CANU said in the end the drug convict failed to besmirch the image of that anti-drug agency. “Despite several efforts by Dataram and his advisors to tarnish the reputation of CANU, we stand together today as one to see him being found guilty,” Singh said.
Singh praised his agency’s legal team for their performance in court for presenting the evidence that eventually led to a conviction.