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Scrap metal shipment transited Guadeloupe before arriving cocaine-laden in Belgium; Guyanese shipper wanted

Last Updated on Friday, 6 November 2020, 21:16 by Denis Chabrol

The shipment of scrap metal, in which 11.5 tonnes of cocaine were discovered stashed on arrival  in Belgium, had transited the French Overseas Department of Guadeloupe, the Head of  Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) James Singh said Friday night.

He said the broker has been arrested and investigators are looking for the shipper – Marlon Primo- who is the brother of well-known Guyanese singer, Jomo “Rubber Waist” Primo

He said investigators were trying to ascertain whether the shipping container had on the same seals that they left Guyana with.

Mr. Singh said the containers left Guyana on September 25, were discharged in transit at Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe on September 28 where they remained until  October 3 when they left on a vessel direct to Zeebrugge in Belgium where they arrived on 15 October.

The CANU Chief said the container was scanned in Guyana before leaving aboard a cargo vessel, but he has not yet seen the images.

Earlier Friday, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo cast doubt on whether the container  was inspector and he also questioned the departure date  as reported by Belgian authorities. He said authorities would rope in all the persons involved in this drug bust. “We are glad that it’s intercepted and we have to now go after all those people; go back and find all of those people who are involved – including from what I have been told- but I don’t know if its factual- because I got this report that the container might have been flagged for inspection – don’t hold me this- and it was never inspected so it seems  there was heavy local involvement and we intend to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Mr. Jagdeo said United States (US) Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch had raised concerns with him that the scanners at Port Georgetown had not been working. Since then, he said two have been installed and there is heightened cooperation between Guyanese authorities and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “We are working closely with the DEA to ensure that any transshipment of drugs through Guyana, any transshipment – and building the capability for doing that- any transshipment we want to catch,” he said.

Belgian authorities said they have broken up a major drugs trafficking gang led by a former Belgian counternarcotics chief which revealed the existence of tight-knit links between criminal gangs and counternarcotics and law enforcement officials.

Three police officers, a port manager and a lawyer were among some 20 other criminals arrested as part of the operation targeting the “well-structured” criminal organisation suspected of orchestrating large and “regular” drug shipments from South America to Belgium.