Cops among four charged for smuggling birds

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Four men, including two police officers, were on Monday hauled before the Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and charged for exporting finches (a species of bird) without the authorization of the Guyana Wildlife and Conservation Commission.

Police officers 23-year-old Alex Heywood and 35-year-old Denzil Williams along with Pramraj Ram called Shawn, a 31-year-old excavator operator of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara (ECD) and Gregory Ramkhelawan, a 40-year-old Driver of Good Hope, ECD, were charged.

It is alleged that between November 1, 2018, and December 8, 2018, at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, they conspired with persons known and unknown to export the birds.

The men denied the joint charged were released on $100,000 bail each.

Meanwhile, Heywood and Williams were also separately charged for the corrupt transaction while being agents of the state.

It is alleged that they corruptly obtained from Ram the sum of $600,000 as an inducement or reward to allow Ramkhelawan to export the finches.

The Chief Magistrate released the duo each on $50,000 bail.

The four men were represented by attorney-at-law Mark Conway, who made an application for bail.

Police Prosecutor, Gordon Mansfield made no objection to the four men being released on bail but requested the report conditions be attached.

The Chief Magistrate adjourned the matters until March 8, 2019.

The birds hidden inside the hair curlers [US Customs and Border Protection photo]
According to the reports, Ramkhelawan was the first to be arrested at the John F. Kennedy International Airport while attempting to smuggle the live birds concealed in hair rollers during the month of December 2018.

He arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents upon his arrival.

He was searched and officers discovered 70 live finches in the hair rollers inside a black duffel bag.

The finches were detained under quarantine and turned over to the United States Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services.

The birds which were hidden inside the hair curlers [US Customs and Border Protection photo]
The birds have a ready market for owners who “race” them (whistling competition) for at least US$5,000.

During the investigation in Guyana, Heywood and Williams were arrested and admitted to accepting $600,000 bribe from Ram to allow the birds to pass through CJIA with Ramkhelawan.

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