Over 100 GDF ranks were part of the search for ‘Smallie’
By Isanella Patoir
Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Omar Khan, has revealed that more than 100 ranks of the GDF were part of the Joint Services operation that led to the capture and subsequent deaths of notorious and mass murderer Mark Royden Williams and his accomplice, Odel Roberts.
This information comes as local law enforcement continues to investigate how the two men came to possess military-grade weapons.
Brigadier Khan, who spoke with the press on Friday morning at Base Camp Ayangana, Georgetown, explained that in any joint operation of this nature, the Police Force takes the lead and that the “GDF will play a supporting role.”
“We would have had over 100 ranks involved, it is a vast area, a jungle terrain and we are more trained and equipped to operate in the jungle so we would have had the majority of ranks in that area, being military ranks,” the Chief of Staff said.
When questioned further on whether the over 100 ranks were present at the time Williams and Roberts met their demise, Brigadier Khan said, “I don’t have that information.”
He then further explained that the operation was in “a primary jungle” where ranks can only cover a certain distance in a particular time.
“If I walk on the road (in the city) I might cover six miles in two hours; in the jungle, in two hours, you might just cover 200 metres, so it is difficult and given that the criminals had military-grade weapons [and] ammunition, you would want to be careful,” the Chief of Staff noted.
He said the Police are investigating how Williams and Roberts got access to that type of weapon. After they were killed, investigators retrieved a M70 rifle and 79 rounds of live ammunition from the men.
“I am sure once that investigation is concluded, we will have enough information to know where this came from, where it was going and if there was any intention beyond the escape from prison.”
The Chief of Staff then referred further questions to the Police and said the GDF will continue to support law enforcement as best they can.
Exactly two weeks ago, Williams, known as ‘Smallie’, made a daring daylight escape from Guyana’s maximum security prison at Mazaruni, Region Seven.
Following his escape a Joint Services manhunt was immediately launched to “recapture and arrest the escapee.”
The Police Force in a statement on Thursday, said a tracking operation was set up within the 33 Miles, Potaro Road, Bartic area which eventually led to ranks intercepting Williams and Roberts, known as ‘Gully Side’.
They were both shot dead during what the Police Force said was a “confrontation.”
“Fortunately, none of the ranks were injured during the operation.
“The Joint Services wish to thank all those individuals who provided invaluable support during the search for the escapee Williams and his two accomplices Howard and Roberts,” the statement noted.
Neon Howard, another accomplice of Smallie, was shot dead by Police Officers last Sunday when he reportedly snatched a firearm from ranks and attempted to shoot them after they caught him.
This incident occurred at St. Mary’s Quarry, Region Seven (Cuyuni- Mazaruni).
Howard was wanted for aiding the recent escape of Williams, according to the Police.
Six persons including the Superintendent of Prisons, Alexander Hopkinson were subsequently charged and remanded to prison for aiding Williams to escape.