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Cypriot-registered ship fined US$60,000 for cocaine bust

The cocaine that was discovered aboard the MV Deltadiep

The Cypriot vessel, M/V DeltaDiep that was detained following the discovery of 185 packages of cocaine in a 40ft flat rack container on January 6 has been released after the fine of G$12M (US$60,000) was paid to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the tax agency said in a statement on Saturday.

The GRA said the fine was levied by the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr. Khurshid Sattaur, pursuant to the provisions made under Section 224 – 226 of the Customs Act Chapter 82:01 in lieu of the forfeiture which took effect on January 9, by way of a Notice of Seizure on account of the narcotics found on board the vessel. 

The MV Deltadiep was represented by the law firm of Cameron & Shepherd who represented the Owners and Insurers of the vessel. The fine was negotiated with Cameron & Shepherd during one week of discussions and was finally resolved and based on the precedent of the MV CFS Palamedes. This vessel was discovered in 2007 with 300 kg of cocaine. It was fined $15 million.  The Director of Public Prosecutions recommended no prosecutions.

The GRA had initially reported that one hundred and eighty five (185) packages (192.420 kg) of cocaine unearthed from the DeltaDiep vessel, which arrived from Suriname, had an approximate value of $800M. However, subsequent information revealed that the packages valued Euros 45,000 (G$2.1B). The ship left the Netherlands via Parimaribo, Suriname then proceeded to Guyana to load bauxite and was scheduled for Belgium.

According to the GRA, the packages bore identification marks such as the Rolls Royce, JR, Superman, XX, Playboy, Dolphin and Scissors logos. Following the findings, eleven other flat rack containers were examined however no narcotic drugs were discovered in those containers.

Following the discovery of the cocaine the captain and crew, two of whom were Polish nationals and nine Filippino nationals, were detained and escorted to the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) while the container was transported to the GRA Warehouse Facility, Industrial Site, Eccles, for security purposes. The investigation by CANU is ongoing.

GRA officials acted on intelligence provided by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), that one of the containers onboard the vessel had cocaine. The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit was called in, and together with officers of Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA’s) Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) and Drug Examination Unit (DEU) conducted an examination of the container.

The January 6 drug bust mirrors several successful efforts in previous years to stop the smuggling of illegal drugs such as the more than 3,000 kilos (6940 pounds) of cocaine found hidden on the St. Vincent-registered ship M.V. Danielsen in October 1998; the largest haul in Guyana’s history.