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Whistle-blower helping DEA
A local whistle-blower has provided a detailed statement to local law enforcement and visiting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials, on how a group of transnational drug dealers shipped $644 million in prime grade cocaine from Port-of-Spain to the Port of Norfolk in the United States last month. The drugs, which were concealed in more than 700 cans of Trinidad Juice, were eventually seized by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on December 20.
Based on the whistle-blower’s information, three people who have been described as “businesspeople,” have been identified as primary suspects in the case. A local broker has also been highlighted as a key person of interest in the ongoing probe. Investigators are also trying to determine whether Caribbean Sea Works Ltd, the company which requested an empty container from local transport company Basics Transport Ltd in order to ship what turned out to be illegal cargo, is a legitimate entity.
The situation developed yesterday as DEA officers continued liaising with local law enforcement and customs officers trying to piece together the final details of the case. In an interview yesterday, director of Basics Transport Ltd Apollo Arjoon could not shed any light on the legitimacy of Caribbean Sea Works Ltd. He said he was contacted by a broker to supply an empty container on behalf of Caribbean Sea Works. He said, however, that he did not have a number for the company and has never met any of its representatives.
“How it works is a broker would supply the relevant documents on behalf of Caribbean Sea Works for the container to be shipped...So I would not be dealing with Caribbean Sea Works,” Arjoon said. He said for the past three years he has been doing work for Caribbean Sea Works Ltd through a broker, but maintained that during that time he did not know the owner or directors of the company.
He said he delivered an empty container to be loaded on behalf of the company in Port-of-Spain on November 7. The container was then picked up the same day after it was loaded, Arjoon said. He said his transport fee is $800. Arjoon said when empty containers are delivered to clients, they are then filled and a customs seal is placed on the container. “After the seal is placed, I cannot break it open to see what is inside of it,” he said.
“I am not the one who would be there when the items are being placed in the container. That’s really not my business. “My objective is to deliver the container to the client and then pick it up after.” Asked if he has been approached by the police, Arjoon said he gave a statement to the port police. He said: “My business has and will continue to operate above board. We have nothing to hide. The police can look at my records any time.”
Asked for more information, including a phone number of the broker he dealt with for the job, Arjoon said he prefered to give that information to the police. He then directed the T&T Guardian to the shipping line Mediterranean Shipping Company. However, documentation manager at the Mediterranean Shipping Company, Susan Mahabir, said she could not provide information on the matter.
“I cannot say anything but I will say we are working with the relevant agencies in the investigation,” Mahabir said in a telephone interview. Pressed further for a contact for Caribbean Sea Works Ltd, she hung up. Checks of the online registry of the Ministry of Legal Affairs yesterday showed there was no listing for Caribbean Sea Works Ltd. A company named Caribbean Works and Services Ltd did come up during the search, but that company has been dissolved.
The online SearchinTT business page did have a Caribbean Sea Works Ltd registered with a phone number, 637-3908, which was not in service. An address for Caribbean Sea Works Ltd was listed as 107 Windy Ridge Road, Goodwood Park, Trinidad. But when the T&T Guardian visited there yesterday, there was a building under construction at the address. The property was recently bought by a new owner, sources said.