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Dookeran: No note from US

By Newsday Staff Saturday, January 25 2014

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran yesterday said he has not yet received any note to request the extradition of any suspects in the recent attempt to smuggle cocaine from Trinidad to the United States in over 700 sealed tins bearing false labels of Trinidad Citrus Fruit Juice. He spoke to reporters during the teabreak of the Lower House yesterday at Tower D of the Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain.

Dookeran said, “Well with respect to the press reports on the matter of the diplomatic note received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I could indicate to you that as of now we have not yet received any diplomatic note on this matter.”

Asked if any informal approaches had been made apart from awaiting the arrival of a formal note, Dookeran replied, “That’s all I can say at this time. We have received no diplomatic note.”

National Security Minister Gary Griffith also said yesterday he has received no information about warrants being issued by the United States Justice Department for the arrests of persons in connection to the $640 million cocaine bust in Norfolk Port in Virginia. Griffith also said reports about persons being arrested outside of this country with respect to the bust are false.

Speaking with reporters shortly before he left the National Operations Centre (NOC) at Knowsley, Port-of-Spain, Griffith stressed that information regarding investigations by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement agencies remains “on a need to know basis.”

“I have been getting a lot of reports. Initially I heard that three persons were arrested in North America pertaining to that matter. That is not accurate,” Griffith said. “Now I have been hearing that warrants have been issued here. I have no knowledge about that,” he added.

Asked whether the investigations remain at a sensitive stage with respect to the arrest of persons in connection with the cocaine bust, Griffith replied, “Most definitely. What I have said and continue to say is that this is a very sensitive matter. I have asked the intelligence agencies, those persons who are involved and working with the DEA that this is held in the strictest confidence.”

Reiterating that this information “must be confidential and remain on a need to know basis,” Griffith said, “At this time, no government official including myself, do not need to know.”

During an earlier briefing at the NOC, Griffith made no mention about the drug bust but spoke about the ways in which the centre could help local law enforcement agencies to deal with all types of crime taking place in the country, including the shipment of contraband like illegal drugs.

Three businessmen are considered suspects in the investigations into the smuggling of 332 kilos of cocaine from the Port of Port-of-Spain to Norfolk Port in 700 sealed tins bearing false labels of Trinidad Citrus Fruit Juices.

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