Drug agents from the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) have detained a popular Waini River businessman as they intensify their probe into the discovery of a semi-submersible vessel in the Guyana jungle two weeks ago.
The man Michael D’Anrade, who operates a large grocery and general store in the Waini River area, was removed from his home by CANU agents last Friday night before being transported to the city on Saturday for questioning.
The local drug agents are hoping that the businessman would be able to provide them with information about the owners of the vessel, which they believe is linked to the illegal drugs trade.
From all indications, the businessman has already gone though some intense interrogation although he has repeatedly denied any link to the vessel or the persons who are associated for it.
After initially being denied access to a lawyer, D’Anrade was eventually allowed a brief conversation with attorney at law Glen Hanoman yesterday.
Danrade, according to reports, had telephoned his wife on Saturday and instructed her to contact Hanoman, who he requested to meet him at the CANU headquarters where he was being held.
On Saturday, night this newspaper was outside the CANU Headquarters on Homestretch Avenue when Hanoman turned up and was denied access to his client.
A man who claimed that he was just a security guard at the gate, kept the attorney waiting for more than 30 minutes while he sought instructions from his superiors on whether or not to allow Hanoman in.
He eventually came back and stated that D’Anrade was not at the location, but changed his tune when Hanoman insisted that the businessman had telephone his wife from CANU headquarters a few hours earlier.
The guard then told the attorney that he had received strict instructions not to allow him to see the client and advised that he returns on Monday since it was already late in the evening.
When he was asked by the lawyer who issued the instructions, the guard replied that the US Embassy had issued the order. With that, the attorney smiled and walked away.
CANU is reportedly being assisted in their probe of the narco sub by the United States of America’s Drug Enforcement Agency.
Yesterday, Hanoman was eventually allowed a brief audience with D’Anrade, but was rudely interrupted while he was receiving instructions from his client.
“I have not had any effective communication with him. CANU believes that they are doing me and my client a favour by allowing me to see him,” the attorney stated.
According to Hanoman, D’Anrade owns the largest grocery and general store in the Waini area and is a major supplier to persons operating there. D’Anrade’s store is located several miles from where the narco sub was discovered.
“He managed to tell me that they (CANU agents) went to him and asked him if he knows anything about the sub. He told them that he had dealt with some people who told him that they were building a boat several miles from his location,” the attorney told this newspaper yesterday.
Kaieteur News understands that the businessman had sold supplies in the form of ration to the persons.
“It was only when the CANU people took him to where the boat was discovered that he knew what was taking place,” Hanoman said.
The Self Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) was more than likely built at the camp site in Waini River, North West District, Region One.
Following the discovery of the vessel CANU had said that based on intelligence from an ongoing investigation, a number of its officials along with Guyana Defence Force Special Forces, Coast Guard and Air Corps, conducted an operation along the Waini River in the North West District.
During a search of one of the creeks branching off from the Waini, a blue vessel, later identified as a SPSS, was discovered about two miles in, along with a camp consisting of three structures – including accommodation, workshop area and generator.
The accommodation area had the capacity to house approximately 12 persons. There was also a kitchen located within the accommodation. The workshop consisted of pulleys, power tools, paint, and several fiber glass materials. Based on the items present, it is evident that this area was used to build the SPSS found in the creek, CANU said.
The vessel was already fitted with a diesel engine and steering wheel, navigation and other machinery to deem it serviceable. There was no contraband on board the SPSS, CANU said.
“Investigations are ongoing along with discussions with foreign counterparts as it
relates to information sharing and assistance.”
The discovery of the vessel would strengthen what has been known all along…that Guyana is a trans-shipment point for cocaine and other illegal substances.
It would also point to how well organized the drug network is.