– believes CANU will be “exonerated” following probe
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan on Thursday said he was confident that the allegations peddled by self-confessed drug lord Barry Dataram against the Guyana Police Force’s Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) were untrue and Dataram, who is currently before the courts on several drug charges, was bent on tarnishing the name of the Force.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan
Dataram, just over a week ago, came out swinging at the Police Force and CANU, accusing officials of the Unit of being involved in the illegal drug trade. It was during an interview with HGPTV Nightly News (Channel 67), that Dataram alleged that CANU senior officials were involved in illegal drug trafficking activities, further implicating one of the agents, whom he said had bagged some $10 million in exchange for allowing cocaine to leave the country.
Responding to Journalists on Thursday, Ramjattan said it was obvious that the drug mogul had an agenda. “… of course, he has his interest… When you dealing with people who have been charged and are self-confessed drug dealers, I have an opinion on it and it is because there is a certain charge that is currently going on, he probably feels it is time that he tarnishes the CANU officials,” Ramjattan said.
The Public Security Minister posited “that is what rocks your policing agencies, when the damaging tarnishing comes and in a way it breaks and frustrates the officers and especially in a way coming from fellows who are self-confessed drug dealers. What do you expect from these dealers? To tarnish the character of those who are after them”.
He said, however, it was still relevant that law officials pay attention to all that was said and believed that the inquiry into the allegations to be set up by Government would be the best way to deal with that.
“It is my view that CANU will be exonerated, but let’s wait and see. But we will have an inquiry and I hope that it brings out the truth,” Ramjattan said.
The same sentiments were expressed by Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud who said that allegations were nothing new.
“We have taken a position to have a Board of Inquiry. Certainly if there is evidence to suggest an investigation, it will be done,” he added.
The Commissioner said destruction of seized drugs by the Police was done in the presence of the media and several Government officials and just before the drugs were dumped, “they are also weighed so we know what is being destroyed and how much”.
He too said there was nothing to pin CANU to the claims made by the accused.
President David Granger on Wednesday indicated that Government was moving to establish a Board of Inquiry, which would determine the veracity of information publicised. He said the Inquiry panel would be given Terms of Reference to investigate the allegations concerning improper behaviour of officers of the State.
When questioned what would happen if anyone was found culpable, the President said, “We will deal with the culpable in a way that we always deal with the culpable. We expect due process….we expect that the person after proper investigation is put before the courts….we are not persecuting anybody, but we just want to know the facts.
Dataram became infamous back in 2007 following the kidnapping of his wife, Sheleza, and their three-year-old daughter by two Venezuelans; one of whom was later shot dead in a confrontation with Police.
He was then arrested and detained by Police beyond the 72-hour constitutional detention period. His lawyers subsequently approached the Court with a Habeas Corpus Writ, but the Police asked for an extension to conclude their investigations into the kidnapping, which they said was drug-related. What followed was a series of court appearances during which Dataram was twice set free and then rearrested.
He was finally set free in December 2008.
Then, in July 2015, Dataram; his 19-year-old reputed wife, Anjanie Boodnarine, as well as Trevor Gouveia and Komal Charan were jointly charged for 129.230 kilograms of cocaine that was found in frozen shrimp at Dataram’s Lot 661 Fourth Avenue, Block X, Diamond, East Bank Demerara (EBD) residence on April 16, 2015.
He was also found to be in possession of a quantity of firearms and ammunition. He subsequently secured $4 million bail for the drug charge and $400,000 bail for the weapons charge from the High Court.
His reputed wife was also granted bail in the High Court in the sum of $1.5 million, along with the two other accused.