4.2 tons cocaine seizure: four Guyanese to face charges in US Virgin Islands

The boat carrying the cocaine was stopped and searched by authorities February 16, during a joint patrol by the crews of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Joseph Napier and the Coast Guard of Trinidad and Tobago

The four Guyanese, who were arrested in an operation that seized 4.2 tons of cocaine worth some $US125M from a fishing boat sailing north of Suriname, the San Juan Coast Guard reported Monday, are all expected to face US Federal drug trafficking charges in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

They were identified as Mark Williams, Neville Jeffrey, Richard La Cruz and the captain of the vessel
Mohammed Nazim Hosein. Authorities said that the operation was carried out on Feb. 16 in the Atlantic Ocean, when a US Coast Guard ship detected the cocaine-carrying fishing vessel 70 feet (21 meters) long, registered on the isle of Saint Vincent. Local narcotics agents of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit will be working with their international partners since four Guyanese were identified. The fishing vessel the men were busted on, Lady Michelle was last in Guyana in 2013.

The captain of the Coast Guard ship out of San Juan, Francisco Rego, called this the biggest maritime drug bust in the Atlantic Ocean since the year 1999. Capturing the drug runners and their cargo was made possible thanks to intelligence sharing by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) personnel in its Santa Cruz and Barbados offices, among other federal agencies that make up the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.

Where the cargo of drugs came from and where it was headed has not been revealed, since the investigation is still underway. “As the cocaine flow from South America continues to increase, law enforcement partners in the Eastern Caribbean Region have to increase our collaborative efforts in order to effectively respond to the threat,” the DEA’s assistant special agent in the Caribbean, James Doby, said.

“Such collaborative efforts are currently underway in the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force, where law enforcement partners are collocated every day,” he said. Last week, U.S. agents confiscated cocaine during a routine operation in Caguas, Puerto Rico which was estimated to have a street value of US$14million.