US Justice Dept requests arrest warrants
By NALINEE SEELAL Friday, January 24 2014
ARRESTS in the $640 million cocaine bust could be coming in a matter of days, after the United States Justice Department yesterday issued a Diplomatic Note to this country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The Diplomatic Note calls for a provisional warrant of arrest for three businessmen who are central to investigations into the smuggling of 332 kilos of cocaine from the Port in Port-of-Spain to the Norfolk Port in Virginia, USA.
Sources confirmed that the Note was received by the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday, but it was not known if the Note was forwarded to the Central Authority in the Ministry of the Attorney General, which is charged with processing all requests for extradition of wanted persons.
“Once this Diplomatic Note is issued and forwarded to the Central Authority it means almost certain arrest since there is no delay or should be no delay in dealing with such urgent requests,” a source from the Central Authority told Newsday.
The issuance of the Diplomatic Note from the US Justice Department came after sources said that two Customs and Excise officers as well as a Central Trinidad businessman and a car dealer from South Trinidad have been placed under surveillance by officers close to the investigations. US Drug Enforcement Admin-
istration (DEA) officers have been working closely with local Strategic Services Agency (SSA), National Operations Centre (NOC), police and Customs officers.
Investigators believe the Customs officers as well as the two businessmen could shed some light as to how 332 kilos of cocaine ended up inside 700 sealed tins bearing false labels of the popular Trinidad Citrus Fruit Juices brand.
Newsday also understands that officers of the Homeland Security in the United States, who have taken over investigations in that country, believe they may be able to make a major breakthrough any day soon.
Based on intelligence gathering thus far, investigators are hoping that persons already fingered will decide to turn state’s witness against the “big fishes” behind this drug operation to ensure arrests and convictions. Investigators met yesterday to discuss the status of the investigations.