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SM Jaleel: We were targeted
SM Jaleel has again distanced itself from the seizure of $.6 billion worth of cocaine in Norfolk, Virginia, last month. Called for comment yesterday, as more Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers arrived from the United States to continue their probe in T&T, CEO Dr Aleem Mohammed directed questions to his marketing department. In a statement, however, SM Jaleel said the discovery of 700 cans of cocaine in Trinidad juice tins was a devastating blow which hurt the company’s reputation, both locally and internationally. Company officials reiterated that the juice product was not genuine and had been tampered with.
The company added: “SM Jaleel did not export the container of juices with cocaine to the USA. We have been reliably informed that the container in question was shipped from Port-of-Spain to Norfolk, Virginia. SM Jaleel & Co Ltd ships to the USA with Seaboard Marine from the Point Lisas port to Brooklyn, New York. “The container was not shipped by SM Jaleel, so we cannot provide any information as to the frequency. SM Jaleel sent four shipments with Seaboard Marine, via the port of Point Lisas. in 2013 in March, April and August, the last arriving in Brooklyn on November 13. It was cleared by our authorised distributor on November 15 and the empty container returned to the port on November 19.”
SM Jaleel said it had not been contacted by the DEA but was willing to assist. Asked who was responsible for the shipment, SM Jaleel said: “We do not know. We hope this will become public knowledge as soon as possible in order to clear our name. “Our information is that external investigations are being conducted in the USA using information stated on the bill of lading from the shipping line. Given that SM Jaleel ships over 6,000 containers a year, along with the unblemished reputation around the world for over 30 years, SM Jaleel is a natural target.”