June 6 Georgetown Guyana: A local drug bust was one of the
clues that helped US authorities to uncover and smash a cocaine smuggling ring that was shipping drugs from Guyana on cargo
and passenger flights to the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Drug Enforcement
Agency (DEA) arrested and charged 27 members of the alleged ring in April this year after wiretaps revealed that they made
up a network that relied on cocaine suppliers in Guyana to regularly import multi-kilo shipments of cocaine through the JFK
Airport. The drugs were then sold by a group of distributors between New York and Virginia.
According to the court deposition of ICE Special Agent Jason Molina,
it was the May 15 seizure by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) of 50 kilos of cocaine hidden in boxes of frozen fish
at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport that pointed the authorities in the direction of Sharwin Lilly, also known as Nigel
Chester and 'Huey' of Brooklyn, New York, the man said to be the ringleader of the organisation.
The deposition revealed that the organisation imported cocaine into
the US from Guyana using the John F Kennedy Airport often in frozen fish and even in chow mein shipments.
"Typically, this organisation hides the cocaine in seemingly legitimate
cargo or uses airline passengers arriving from Guyana as cocaine couriers," Molina said. The deposition also noted that airport
employees and security officers in Georgetown receive payments from narcotics smugglers in exchange for permitting cocaine
to leave the country.
The cocaine in the frozen fish had been destined for JFK aboard
a Universal Airlines Flight 102. After the seizure, ICE agents obtained the airway bill for the consignment from Universal
Airlines, naming Colin Smith (the alias of Osapha Agustus Anderson who was recently freed on a technicality) as the shipper,
and the consignee as "Eye 4 Eye Produce," located at 795 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. A telephone number was also
Agents later discovered that "Eye 4 Eye Produce" was a fictitious
name and a Chinese restaurant was found at the location that was given. The owner told agents that he had been operating at
the spot for two years and was unfamiliar with "Eye 4 Eye Produce" and that he purchased fish for his restaurant from a wholesaler
in New York, New York, not Guyana.
As a result, agents reviewed the cargo shipments of frozen fish
that had arrived at JFK from Guyana between December 2003 and May 2004. The records showed that five shipments had arrived
containing frozen fish for "Eye 4 Eye Produce" and four of these were picked up by Lennox Hobbs. His telephone records were
later subpoenaed and investigators found that he had made multiple phone calls to Lilly when the shipments were arriving in
the States. This later led to the authorised interceptions of Lilly's phone calls, which only began in January of this year.
In one instance, interception of the calls led to the arrest of
a mule who had been trying to smuggle drugs into the US. On February 21, 2005 at 11:41 am Lilly and Wanda Deloach were recorded
talking about the woman bringing the drugs.