Belgian drug bust: GRA recovers thousands of deleted files

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The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has managed to recover pertinent images, which were deleted from its scanner, relating to a container of scrap metal, which left Guyana late September for Belgium and was found with 11.5 tonnes of cocaine.

But this will not be shared with the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) until GRA completes its investigations.

The News Room understands that thousands of other deleted files were also recovered, raising serious concerns for the authorities at GRA. Commissioner General of GRA, Godfrey Statia told the News Room that investigations so far found that an administrative passcode was used to delete the files, but even more surprising is that the passcode was used by multiple persons.

“An administrative password was used by multiple persons, so it means that the password was shared, that’s all I will say…We are going through the analysis phase and the investigation continues and it would normally take some time,” Statia said.

According to Statia, the files were retrieved using local resources but the process was timely. Meanwhile, until GRA’s investigation is completed, only then the files relating to the scrap metal container will be shared with CANU, which is leading the local investigation into the massive drug bust.

Commissioner-General of the GRA, Godfrey Statia

“We are not sharing it, we are doing an investigation and as soon as the investigation is complete, we are going to share everything with CANU because it is thousands of images and we have to identify the exact one and not only that one, because if you are looking through other images that were deleted, you may find additional things, there must be some reason for them to be deleted in the first place,” Statia explained.

Statia, however, did not wish to comment on the period that these images were deleted from the scanner. The modern high tech scanner was donated by the Chinese government with specific features to detect drugs and other illegal items.

In the meantime, CANU continues the search for the local shipper, Marlon Primo of 701 Cummings Lodge, East Coast Demerara (ECD) and 69 Atlantic Ville, ECD.

On November 08, a wanted bulletin was issued for Primo, who operates MA Trading. Anyone knowing Primo’s whereabouts is kindly asked to make contact with CANU HQ – 227 – 3507 or 226 – 0431.

CANU has also requested the assistance of international counterparts in an effort to locate Primo. Even though there is no record of him leaving Guyana through any official port of entry, every possible option is being explored.

Three GRA employees and a broker were arrested in connection with the local investigation and have all been released from custody. Local detectives, during the initial investigation, also discovered explosives at a Region Four property.

Head of CANU, James Singh further told the News Room that they have been receiving support from the Belgium authorities as it relates to the sharing of information regarding the seizure.

The Belgian Times reported the drug bust as the largest in the world with an estimated street value of €900 million. The shipment left Guyana on September 25 and was opened in Belgium on October 27.

The illegal substance was disguised as scrap metal and placed inside a steel container which was in turn packed into a sea container and loaded into a transatlantic vessel. Local authorities found that the ship stopped in Guadeloupe for a few days.

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