By STABROEK STAFF | EDITORIAL | MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2012
As President Ramotar settles into his mandate and comes to grips with his agenda for the year and beyond, nothing will test his freedom of action and sincerity in reforming the security sector like the question of a full investigation into the rampage here of convicted drug lord Roger Khan and whether his activities ensnared senior members of the last two administrations or at worse criminalized them.
It is the proverbial elephant in the room. No other issue can hold a candle to it. Every other security matter will be a jigsaw missing its biggest piece without a true accounting for the Khan penetration of the security apparatus, his run-amok phantom squad and the ease with which he trafficked in cocaine. In his previous roles as PPP General Secretary and as presidential hopeful, like many others high up in the PPP/C and the government, Mr Ramotar did not grapple with the seriousness of the problem. His position then was quite likely in conformity with the stance of former President Jagdeo. Mr Ramotar is now, however, the person in the seat of the presidency and he now has to answer as President.
Whenever they get their act together, the parliamentary opposition will no doubt press the issue of the Khan inquiry and whether this entails a full-blown investigation of all of the violence and carnage of 2002-2008. The parties aside, there would be few independent-minded people in this country who would be opposed to a full-fledged Commission of Enquiry into the Khan reign of terror and drugs. This enquiry must be done for all the people of this country, particularly those who were directly affected by the terror and lost loved ones to the actions of this man who now sits in a US jail instead of having been subjected to the full extent of the law here and possible incarceration at Lot 12 Camp Street. The enquiry must not be seen as a trade-off between the parties or haggled into a reductive undertaking as was the case of the hearing into the allegations against former minister Gajraj.
Indeed, President Ramotar is in pole position to stake out the high ground. He can declare his intention to investigate the Khan period and enable a commission of enquiry with full powers. There may be challenges within his party and administration to it but it would be the right and appropriate thing to do. It is also worthy of note that Minister Ramsammy whose name was mentioned in a US court in relation to the permission for the purchase of spy equipment for Khan’s use has been retained in the Cabinet.
Despite the absence of a criminal investigation here into the many crimes that Khan was alleged to have committed, the disclosures in several cases in New York coupled with the revelations contained in the WikiLeaks cables place beyond any doubt that Khan was allowed to conduct his affairs here without fear of prosecution because of his connections. Where government officials are alleged to have been caught up in these matters the Rubicon has been crossed and the pathway to law and order and just governance has to be swiftly retraced.
Whether the government proceeds with foreign-funded reform of the police force which was so perversely obstructed by senior government members in the Jagdeo administration will not matter much if the nub of the Khan reign isn’t unlocked, understood and extensive walls built to defend against a recurrence.
Ultimately Khan is the one who is answerable. He has thrown in the towel and pleaded guilty. Surely he may now be in the frame of mind where he recognizes the futility of denying his role in the cocaine-spiked bloodshed here. He faces the prospect of being returned here upon the completion of his sentence in the US. He must certainly be aware that he would be a person of enormous interest in any number of murder investigations in connection with which his name has been called but for which there was never any prosecution. He might be prepared to make a clean breast of it and perhaps provide testimony to the Commission of Enquiry. On a state to state basis the Ramotar administration should be prepared to approach Washington on the prospect of having access to Mr Khan in his cell. This as we have said before is a matter that is perfectly in the domain of the President. There need not be any acrimonious parting of ways with the opposition over this matter.
Mr Khan fled here as a fugitive from American justice in 1993 – months after the PPP/C came to power – and at the time of his arrest in June 2006 he had taken over Kaow Island, owned and operated several businesses, had a private army and had been on the verge of securing a forestry lease in the south of Guyana undoubtedly for the continuation of his nefarious business. The collapse of that deal has raised questions about his possible involvement in the killing of Minister Satyadeow Sawh. All of this transpired under thirteen uninterrupted years of PPP/C governance and it is the PPP/C that has to enable its own conduct to be examined. Khan’s free reign was clearly a product of the compromised and broken security sector which the PPP/C never bothered too much about as control of the apparatus was its prime consideration. This commission of enquiry would be not so much about Khan’s mastery of the degraded security apparatus but as to whether government officials or the government knowingly facilitated his ascendancy for whatever reason. This is what President Ramotar’s government needs to get to the bottom of before it can embark on the much needed reforms to the security sector.
Spin Back – US revokes Guyana ruling PPPC goon Kwame McCoy’s visa amid allegations of child solicitation
US revokes Kwame McCoy’s visa
By STABROEK STAFF | WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2009
The United States has revoked the non-immigrant visa of Office of the President Press and Publicity Officer Kwame McCoy as of Monday amid allegations of child solicitation that have been levelled against him.
In correspondence seen by this newspaper last evening, the US Embassy wrote that McCoy’s B1/B2 visa which was issued on March 6, 2009 has been revoked. Up to press time last night McCoy said no such correspondence has reached him, but he declared he is not worried should the information be confirmed as true.
McCoy told Stabroek News last night that if any letter of a visa revocation exists the most likely reason for such action would be the current allegations against him, allegations which he dismissed as unfounded. He also questioned whether the child in the case “exists”. McCoy said there appears to be no interest on the part of the US to enquire into the basis of such allegations and to determine whether they can be substantiated. According to him, any revocation on such grounds simply demonstrates how uninformed decisions could be taken based on “mere allegations”.
McCoy turned his attention to the US government saying an examination of its policies would point to the state offering protection to a confessed murderer who “admitted to being part of a criminal gang that killed (Ronald) Waddell among other things but now he and his entire family is being protected by the US”. McCoy added that the public will judge the facts.
“…I am not worried at all if my visa was revoked because thankfully the US has no control over where I travel”, he added.
A taped conversation between an adult and a child surfaced in September and on the recording, the two speakers discuss plans for a sexual liaison. McCoy, who is also a member of the Rights of the Child Commission and a PPP/C Region Four Regional Democratic Council representative has denied that it is his voice on the recording, and deemed it a clear fabrication aimed at “smearing my character and family name.”
Previously, the US had revoked the visa of then Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj following allegations that he was linked to a death squad and subsequent to this current Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee also encountered visa problems while he held another portfolio. The US had also revoked the serving Commissioner of Police Henry Greene’s diplomatic visa in 2006 before taking back his visitor’s visa in June of the same year after Washington alleged that the then Acting Police Commissioner had benefited materially from the drugs trade. Greene had strenuously denied the allegation.
Written by Paul Sanders
My two cents: President Bharrat Jagdeo should have you worried again.
His so-called Appreciation Day last Friday assumed that somehow Guyana has been all hunky dory under his watch, and that is a classic trope of fascists.
His raw enthusiasm is enough to tire an elephant and his messianic intensity can only be tolerated in short doses. He is very much like a high-power fluorescent light; in other words, he gives you an instant headache.
Perhaps the godly Juan Edghill has it right. Against the background of a propaganda portrait of President Bharrat Jagdeo, magnificent in a red tie, Edghill asserted that he was “keeping with what the scripture says…”
The righteous man continued with the horoscope: “There is an energy and synergy developed around this appreciation that is quite healthy. Some of the persons who have contacted me as one of the organizers of this activity are not people who have voted for Bharrat Jagdeo for president.”
Wait a minute. Back that truck up. Who are they? What the? Are you kidding?
So that twinkle in the eyes of this pious man at the news conference a week earlier as he fretted, was the telling look of a huckster who knows he was pulling a fast one on Guyana. He was socking it up to the nation in the name of the Lord. Recall, the sorcerers of ancient Egypt were doing the same thing, too. Hallelujah.
An embattled chairman of the Ethnic Relations Committee who hobnobs with the “Friends of Jagdeo,” and the pro-government body called the Federation of Independent Trades Union, Edghill’s startling performance was nothing short of rank unorthodox concealment of motives.
Juan Edghill may be a rodeo and radio clown whose grasp of history is what you’d expect from a college dropout, but he is also smart enough to know that using such motives is how Hitler and the Nazis rose to power.
Guyanese need to thank God for Reverend Kwame Gilbert, too, who claims he makes official state visit on behalf of the Jagdeo administration. He shot off a nice ecclesiastical letter to the press hoping to clear up confusion about “attempts to deify” President Jagdeo. The wizard, skilled in wisdom, did exactly that while simultaneously apotheosizing the president and sanctifying the Appreciation Day event.
In normal times, false prophets and brown-nosers alike who use esoteric pitch might leave the public bemused, bewildered or just bored. But these aren’t normal times, and the boisterous crowd on-demand that was bused, trucked, chauffeured in at the Providence Stadium – just like the Babylonian folks who assembled before Nebuchadnezzar – roared its approval.
Yeah, the people came, and stood before the king; they came with great readiness and willingness, esteeming it a great honor done them to be sent by the king; they sang and danced awaiting his will and pleasure.
George Orwell would have felt at home here. He would have recognized the rewriting of history. The event was so suffused with awareness that President Jagdeo has lost the public’s confidence long ago. And yes, the cyber world of bloggers gingerly await the Indian essay from lousy poet at the poll station; he likes to speak like Charles Manson.
Of course. At the NCN, Guyana Chronicle and the Guyana Times, one can find a people in denial and suffering delusions as they continue to deceive themselves into believing the world is buying that kind of turd.
All religions have a magical aspect. And in the tabernacle of the PPP, magical knowledge and power emanates from the gods and is bestowed upon the king and his substitutes: the religious spokesmen – the less exalted, who do not deal with life and death but with more mundane issues like good luck charms, enchantments, astrology, and serious propaganda.
The significance of Edghill and Gilbert was to interpret the Divine communication through the magic formulas, or incantations and the secret sciences of political occultism, and to extol the Guyanese fascist to blissful eminence. These scribes have brought to the altar the sacrifice of their conscience to make favorable before their Highness, and by their arts endeavored to avert the threatened misfortune of a bad election year.
What else can be made of the tribute to President Bharrat Jagdeo’s “contribution to the economic, social and political transformation of Guyana?”
It’s just a sad, dark day for intelligence and common sense in this country. The exponents of “transformation” are eager to keep people in the dark. The constant blackouts have cast a shadow on the country’s new heights of economic achievement.
Factories grind to a halt; essential services are immobilized and basic existence becomes a burden. No one needs that story from the snow cone man. And just when you think it’s as dark as it can get, you realize that there are men of God who can make it even darker.
Celebrate Guyana, celebrate. Stop in awe and begin to think how Guyana has morphed from Burnham’s era of “kick down the door” bandits to present day gun battles playing fiercely out on the streets; gun runnings linked to the military and police; massacres like the ones at Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek; daily murders, good enough for a movie script; spectacular Hollywood style hold ups, daring sea pirates; government sponsored killing machines such as the “Phantom Squads;” and a host of anti-life orchestration all happening in an equal opportunity manner.
That’s the transformation Guyana celebrates. Moving from bad to worse. And it’s getting dangerously worse. Nothing is sacred. Under the PPP, Guyana has drifted from a pathetic Co-operative Socialist Republic (of the Burnham kind) steadily to the invidious position of a failed state and into a narco-state.
Drugs and money laundering that accompany; killings and sleek trafficking that associate with the industry are all ubiquitously synonymous with the Jagdeo Adminstration. So synonymous that the president is pointedly referred to as“Drugdeo” in bloggersphere.
In this democracy, there is a premium for being a jerk; just listen to the caustic forcefulness of folks like Clement Rohee, Kellawan Lall, OP’s poster boy Kwame McKoy and the rising superstar Minister Irfan Ali.
And while the president and his associates continue to appreciate themselves, the rest of Guyana must make a judgment on how their lives measure up against the lives of the Guyanese rulers or their children. Case in point: the issue of Minister Manniram Prashad’s son vehicular homicide of a UG student; and the attitudes of the ruling class in the aftermath.
And what about the scams, too numerous and too fast to keep apace with? What does it say about transformation? It speaks eloquently about the conspiracy of family and best friends; the tangled tale of criminality and massive corruption, of politicians, government officials in thrall to the power of unsavory businessmen of the underworld. It is the quotidian existence.
Corruption is not only rampant; it is an epidemic. It is the new normal; another catharsis for “transformation” attributed by President Jagdeo. Shrewd business activity requires an ear to the vicissitudes of the administration; a razor sharp knowledge of the extent of the inherent venality in the system, and ruthless street smarts to equalize the equation.
That sounds like Ed Ahmad- an aficionado of alleged political gangsta-ism; the haughtiness and a personal friend of President Jagdeo. Ed is the quintessential example of how big money allegedly courts big corruption with the big boys at the top. Even as more details unfold about his $50 million alleged fraud in the U.S., and as prosecutors move for more indictments against him, Ed Ahmad provides the best example of how much accessibility money can buy, with the right moves.
It is the pace of commerce in Guyana. Getting “in” practically means ripping a page out of the “Who ya know” handbook; and guaranteed prosperity and success demands a kind of obsequiousness that graduates into an entitlement of the government franchise. But it requires a repudiation of self esteem and integrity supplemented by a stomach for violence – literally or metaphorically.
Say it ain’t so. For decades there have been two main forces in Guyanese politics: the Indo and Afro world outlook, alternately holding power and seeking it – by whatever means. Which means the exploitation of the race card.
How far (or close) has President Jagdeo brought the two races harmoniously together? No need to think; it’s not a tricky question. There is nothing too highbrow in his utterances when he seeks the audience in the East Indian strongholds.
It is almost a paradox that many East Indians who are traditional supporters of the PPP, and who have maintained a sense of self worth had to choose to escape – legally and illegally – to North American and, more recently, into the Caribbean islands to pursue their economic survival. These skilled men have had the sad realization that their ” Apaan Jhaat” votes did not translate into prosperity, but effectively transformed them into “runaways.”
What the Appreciation Day was intended to achieve, at a cost of more than $100 million – some of it “protection” money paid by business entities, in terms of election propaganda was to turn the tide against the revelations of Wiki leaks. Appreciation Day was meant to prop the mighty leader in order to outshine the damage of the cables.
Instead, it turned out to be a fiasco. Wiki leaks did not go away. The cables were a wicked deluge of a mess. Day after day Wiki leaks provides another confirmation of what the public already know about the inner workings of the PPP and the disgraceful Jagdeo cabal. And the responses by Donald Ramotar and President Jagdeo are further confirmation that these are indeed arrogant men.
So what are the lessons of the “transformation” of the Jagdeo kind? It tells us of a dangerous regional development: of all theCaribbean leaders, President Jagdeo’s tenure as a politician is not a catalog of triumphs.
And the Manchurian candidate, Donald Ramotar, whose image is built on the stellar combination of whims and idiosyncrasies of a fascist leader, is aiming at the presidency. He is a unique affliction that plagues Guyanese politics.
Where is everybody?
By Stabroek staff
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
President Bharrat Jagdeo is of the view that crime in the region cannot be solved by crafting regional organizations and is suggesting that the place where there will be greater impact on crime is in the domestic jurisdiction.
After refusing free help from the UK to protect the nation, Jagdeo once again does not want foreigners to be able to examine the security apparatus his PPP government have in place, why is this?
Maybe if foreigners are involved people linked to the PPP would not get away with crimes against the nation and the Guyanese public. Cases like those involving Manniram Prashad’s son Navin Prashad will not disappear, proper police investigations would take place in the cases like those involving Donald Ramotar’s son Alexei Ramotar, or that of Office of the president Nanda Gopal, or Minister Kellawan Lall rum shop fiasco. The Phantom Squad murders, the Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan fiasco, the Minister Clement Rohee refugee scandal.
|Written by realTalk|
|Sunday, 12 June 2011 13:31|
|Many Guyanese blindly support the PPP government and are either not aware or choose to ignore the severe effects of crime that have tormented Guyana and continue to do at alarming rates. All the talk about the 40 and 50 year old events that took place in this country under the PNC is but a tiny speck when compared to the very large ever spreading blotch painted in blood that continues to run on the fabric of our society.
A few months after the dawn of the new era of democracy in Guyana in 1992, Monica Reece was flung from a speeding car on Main Street Georgetown. It was to mark the beginning of a vile and treacherous era of organized crime in Guyana. To trace the birth and rise of organized crime in Guyana during the last 19 years would require a book. No column can do justice to the darkest period of our history.
The Guyana Police Force unfortunately played a crucial role in the nurture of crime in the Guyanese society through its ambivalence with regard to its crime solving ability. The wanton engagement in extrajudicial killings began in the mid-90s and rose to dizzying levels with the ‘Black Clothes’ wreaking havoc on the unsuspected and the unprepared. These events, from little Jermaine in Albouystown in the late 90s to Shaka Blair and Yohance Douglas in 2002 and the others that followed, place the Guyana Police Force in a very precarious position where extrajudicial killings in Guyana are concerned.
With extrajudicial killings rapidly intensifying in the 90s, it did not come as a surprise when the disgraced former US Embassy employee, Mr. Thomas Carol, identified members of the ‘Black Clothes’ as being his muscle used to extort monies from persons caught up in his ‘Back-Track’ scheme. This did not mean that members of the Force were disciplined. No. This new era of democracy saw the wanton rewarding of incompetence. The elite ‘Black Clothes’ police continued their vicious work of taking lives, instead of solving crime.
The prison break of 2001 introduced Guyanese to a display of unrestrained violence never seen before. According to the Police, the escapees allegedly went on a robbing and murdering spree in Georgetown and other parts of Guyana. There was much violence in Georgetown, the East Coast and some parts of Berbice. And soon every robbery and murder was being pinned on the escapees. This led to an all-out man hunt countrywide for this band of robbers and murderers.
What happened as a result of this wave of terrorism in Guyana was the rise of a self-appointed vigilante, drug lord and businessman Saheed Roger Khan. He said he offered his expertise to the government and played a very instrumental role in bringing the escapees to justice. How could a criminal fugitive from the United States of America – a drug lord – assist in fighting crime? It is incomprehensible.
Dead bodies started surfacing all over Georgetown with multiple bullet wounds with no apparent explanation. This went on for a few years. Certain alleged drug kingpins were also terminated. And so it seemed as if amongst the eradication of the escapees, a teeming turf war had ensued. The emergence of George Bacchus and his revealing testimony that introduced Guyanese to the startling connection shared by the government and Mr. Khan’s outfit shed new light on the level of violence that was being perpetrated. George Bacchus execution-style death generated several questions that remain unanswered to this day.
Strangely, the recently concluded manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man bears some striking similarities to our local hunt for the escapees. The same way Mr. Bin Laden was found living comfortably in luxury in the midst of suburban Pakistan not far from its military school is the same way some of our escapes were found in the suburban Georgetown area of Lamaha Gardens, a few doors from the then Minister of Home Affairs. They were killed there.
The kidnapping of a former US Embassy employee saw the embassy issuing a one million dollar reward for the capture of Shawn Brown (one of the notorious escapees). However, less than a week after that Brown was traced to a luxurious home in another suburban part of Georgetown in an area called Prashad Nagar and was gunned down allegedly during a firefight with security forces.
While the joint services operation was combing the harsh backlands of Buxton, the escapees enjoyed life in very quiet neighborhoods in Georgetown. What was the support system offered to them and by whom? Was the jailbreak a quest for freedom or was there an underlying more sinister motive involved?
Mr. Khan himself is now in jail in the US and his trial revealed many things about the role of certain government ministers in his paramilitary organisation’s role in Guyana. The ‘thin’ brothers, Fine Man and Skinny, are all also off the scene, yet carefully organised drive-by shootings continue to occur.
Ronald Waddell, along with over 200 other Guyanese, was executed during that dark period in our history. A serving Minster of the Government was assassinated in 2006; a prominent businessman was abducted in 2008, clinically beheaded and subsequently dumped in the city. When government politicians talk about blood on the hands of other politicians from the 70s, what do they really mean? Is Guyana safer today than it was in the 1973? Has more blood been shed during this new era of democracy or when the PNC ruled?
The views expressed in this and other columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Demerara Waves.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
We are facing the election year in Guyana and most people are expecting it to be an historical one. This is the time when all the political parties will have to plead to the nation for their help. We have seen forty-five years of no proper development in Guyana. The two major parties have taken this country for a ride, diminishing its prestige from the time they received independence from the British to now.
They have caused international embarrassment. A Prime Minister from Jamaica said that Guyana is a begging country; it existed on foreign aid.
It does not have the ability to generate successful economic activities from its own natural resources.
Many smaller countries in the Caribbean are more economically stable and enjoy a better standard of living. The late Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr David Thompson, said that Barbados was too small for Guyanese to keep running there, looking for jobs and proper living standards. He said it should have been the other way around.
Let’s see what is wrong. Three massacres in less than six months, and only one of the areas that experienced it was compensated. There was the Roger Khan episode and over two hundred died; extra- judicial killings; the torching of a boy’s genitals by the police; the killing of a schoolboy in West Demerara; contracts being sub-contracted; government officials failing to adhere to court orders, and many others.
The Georgetown Public Hospital is supposed to very well equipped, but why do top government officials not make much of it whenever they get ill? They go overseas or visit some expensive private hospital in the city. We’ve got so bad that we cannot even control our own sugar industry and in 2009 we had to import sugar from Guatemala.
When the PNC was in the office the PPP tried all sorts of tactics to get the PNC out of office. They encourage the sugar workers to strike for more money and better working conditions.
These strikes crippled the country’s economy, and they told the workers that under the PPP they would be better off. Now these same workers had to take the government to court for severance payments. Sometimes senior government officials have had to go to the courts to obtain their gratuity monies.
So the PNC and the PPP/C are like brothers and sisters; there is no difference between them except what they preach.
Many people say Guyana is a beautiful country, but the beauty of Guyana lies in the interior, which is very clean and healthy. If you want to see the true nature of Georgetown travel on a ship in the Demerara River from the mouth and take a good look at Transport and Harbours Wharf, and you will want to ask yourself if there has been a war. If you are going to the North West District and you manage to reach the stelling around 10am, you will have to wait until 11am when the vessel is scheduled to depart for the North West; then you can board.
The government by now should have taken time off to relax and say, ‘look what we have done for the past 19 years.’
Now they are trying to visit all the different regions with a Georgie bundle of cloths and outboard motors.
Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan was probably the most complete criminal in this country’s history. His guilty plea for trafficking in cocaine, witness tampering and gun running last March has robbed the nation of the detailed exposure of his criminal networks and relationships and leaves lots of questions unanswered.
Special Agent Cassandra Jackson of the United States Drug Enforcement Adminis-tration said it all. In her affidavit to support the charges against Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan, she told a Federal court in Brooklyn that “Khan was ultimately able to control the cocaine industry in Guyana, in large part, because he was backed by a paramilitary squad that would murder, threaten, and intimidate others at Khan’s directive. Khan’s enforcers committed violent acts and murders on Khan’s orders that were directly in furtherance of Khan’s drug trafficking conspiracy.”
According to Jackson, the US Government’s case was to establish that Khan was the leader of a “violent drug trafficking organisation” and that he and his co-conspirators obtained large quantities of cocaine and then imported the cocaine into the Eastern District of New York and other places for further distribution.
It was while he was managing his drug-smuggling business in neighbouring Suriname that the
law finally caught up with Khan. At home in Guyana, Khan seemed to enjoy a charmed existence of immunity from arrest and prosecution. His mistake, however, was to enter Suriname − a more law-abiding jurisdiction. There, his cocaine-constructed house of cards collapsed with his dramatic arrest in Paramaribo.
Suriname’s Minister of Justice Chandrikapersad Santokhi announced on 15th June 2006 that four Guyanese − Shaheed Khan, Sean Belfield, Lloyd Roberts and Paul Rodrigues − were among 12 persons arrested in a law-enforcement operation which netted 213 kg of cocaine. Two weeks later on 29th June, Khan was flown out of Johann Pengel International Airport, Paramaribo, on a Suriname Airways flight to Trinidad and Tobago. He was then handed over to immigration authorities upon arrival who then handed him over to US officials. Less than 24 hours after being expelled from Suriname, Khan was arraigned at the Brooklyn Federal Court in New York on 30th June on a charge of “conspiring to import cocaine” and was ordered to be detained at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn.
Khan’s arrest showed the stark contrast in the quality of governance between the two states. Suriname’s Chandrikapersad Santokhi deemed Shaheed Khan a threat to the national security of Guyana and Suriname and other countries and linked him to plots to assassinate government and judicial officials in that country. According to Santokhi, international agencies, including those in the USA, had been looking for him. On the other hand, Guyana’s Minister of Home Affairs at the time Gail Teixeira formally indicated to Suriname that the government had “no interest” in seeking Khan’s return at that time.
Chairman of the Central Intelligence Committee Dr Roger Luncheon added preposterously that
the Guyana Government could find “no compelling evidence” for Khan to be investigated. The administration, in fact, seemed more concerned about the modalities of Khan’s arrest than the atrocities of his crimes. Luncheon verbalized the administration’s concerns by iterating “its principled objection to the forceful and unlawful removal of its citizen across jurisdictions.”
The beginning of the end of Khan’s criminal career as Guyana’s most notorious drug-smuggler might have been the publication of the US Department of State’s Inter-national Narcotics Control Strategy Report for 2005 which was released in March 2006. The report for the first time named Khan and stated in part:
“Drug traffickers appear to be gaining a significant foothold in Guyana’s timber industry. In 2005, The Guyana Forestry Commission granted a State Forest Exploratory Permit for a large tract of land in Guyana’s interior to Aurelius Inc., a company controlled by known drug trafficker Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan. Such concessions in the remote interior may allow drug traffickers to establish autonomous outposts beyond the reach of Guyanese law enforcement.”
The publication of the Report not only froze the forestry transaction but also sent a signal to the security forces to go after Khan while the President and the Head of the Presidential Secretariat were out of the country at the same time. Enforcement operations against Khan’s associates and properties were aided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Khan was often accompanied by serving or former policemen, usually from the dreaded Target Special Squad. When he was arrested in Suriname, Paul Rodrigues, Lloyd Roberts and Sean Belfield were at his side. Indeed, Khan made no attempt to conceal his activities and his connections with the authorities. In a gratuitous display of hubris, he published a whole-page ‘Statement’ in the newspapers on 12th May 2006 boasting that “During the crime spree in 2002, I worked closely with the crime-fighting sections of the Guyana Police Force and provided them with assistance and information at my own expense. My participation was instrumental in curbing crime during this period.”
Indeed, he seemed deeply involved in some sort of savage, shadowy activity when, on Wednesday 4th December 2002, a Guyana Defence Force patrol in the area of Good Hope, East Coast Demerara, intercepted and searched a vehicle which contained an arsenal of weapons. The three-man hunting party discovered in the vicinity of the vehicle were Khan himself, Haroon Yahya and Sean Belfield, then a serving member of the Police Force. The cache included M-16 assault rifles with night vision devices; Uzi sub-machine gun with silencer; Glock 9mm pistols; 12-gauge shotgun; other small calibre weapons; bullet-proof vests; helmets; a computer and other electronic gadgetry with digitised electronic maps and plans of Georgetown and certain targetted East Coast villages.
As a vital part of the death squad’s operations, Khan was allowed to acquire intercept equipment which enabled him to listen to the conversations and determine the locations of his intended victims. Peter Myers, Co-director of the UK firm Smith Myers recently testified in court that the cellular intercept equipment used by Khan had been sold to the Guyana Government. Meyers identified the intercept equipment − including an intercept receiver and two laptops − and confirmed that it was sold by the company’s Florida sales office through the Fort Lauderdale-based Spy Shop to the Guyana Government. Testimony was led to the effect that Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy had purchased the equipment on behalf of the Guyana Government and that Carl Chapman, a representative of Smith Myers Communi-cations, had travelled to Guyana to train Khan in its use. Both the administration and Ramsammy strongly denied having any connection with the equipment.
Khan’s boast that he masterminded the suppression of the Troubles on the East Coast by using his own “resources” should not be regarded as an expression of altruism. What motive other than murder would one have with a wagonload of weapons in the dead of night? What drug-smuggler would not attempt to expand his market, extend his turf and eliminate his rivals? Khan might have posed as a self-proclaimed law enforcer but in fact waged his own drug-driven gang war. At this time, Ronald Gajraj was Minister of Home Affairs and Floyd McDonald was Commissioner of Police, both of whom had their USA visas suspended.
The period of ‘the Troubles’ on the East Coast is regarded as the most bloody phase in Guyana’s post-Independence history, during which dozens of men were shot to death or even disappeared. Of the numerous victims of violence, it became impossible to determine exactly who were the assailants and what were their motives. Who stood to gain from the execution of the deputy head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit Vibert Inniss, the kidnapping of entrepreneur Brahmanand Nandalall, the murder of businessman Harry Rambarran, the attempted murder of the Director of Public Prosecution Denis Hanoman-Singh and the ‘Diwali massacre’ in Bourda? Could these crimes have been perpetrated by one or several competing cartels to expand their territory or to eliminate their enemies? There are more questions than answers!
George Bacchus, a self-confessed member of the death quad first made public evidence of the squad’s crimes and the possible involvement of high government officials. A Presidential Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate whether Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj was “involved in promoting, directing or otherwise engaged in activities which have involved the extra-judicial killing of persons.” The inquiry found, however, that there was no credible evidence against him. Owing to the limited nature of the inquiry, uncounted assassinations, executions, murders and extra-judicial killings remained unsolved and largely uninvestigated. In the final analysis, civil society, the public and aggrieved relatives boycotted the Inquiry after the star witness George Bacchus was shot dead in his bed at home. No evidence was led to incriminate the minister.
Both Gajraj and Mc Donald had left their key security posts by February 2004. Gail Teixeira was acting as Minister of Home Affairs and Winston Felix had been appointed Commissioner of Police. Under Felix, the special squad which had been accused of numerous extra-judicial killings and racketeering and was suspected of collaborating with Khan, was dismantled and many of its members dismissed. Khan, however, was rich enough to retain relations with most of the squad’s most notorious members who were taken into his employ as bodyguards, informants and more.
Selwyn Vaughn, another self-confessed former member of the death squad, recently provided fresh testimony of Khan’s involvement in murder. Vaughn testified that Khan ordered the execution of Ronald Waddell, an anti-Government talk-show host, at his home in Subryanville. Immediately after the murder, Khan is said to have reported the incident to Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Minister of Health. The US Government had also accused Khan of executing Donald Allison outside his home in Agricola and Dave Persaud outside the Palm Court Restaurant in Georgetown.
Khan felt threatened when the joint GDF-GPF operations targetted his businesses in 2006. He decided to strike back by releasing recordings to media houses of telephone conversations purportedly involving the Commissioner of Police Winston Felix. In a typical example of Guyana-style governance, the administration seized the opportunity not to prosecute Khan the felon who admitted distributing the recording, but to persecute Felix, its own commissioner. Khan was elated and claimed that, in releasing the recordings, he was acting to “expose, identify and curb corruption and incompetence” in the police force.
The confrontation continued with the Police Force publishing a ‘wanted bulletin’ for Khan. He disappeared from view but took to issuing statements through his lawyers and sponsoring advertisements in the press in which he contended ludicrously that he was perceived by persons in the USA, the Police Force, the Defence Force and the People’s National Congress party as someone who had the will and capacity to fight crime and to protect the people of Guyana against a coup d’état.
Khan’s criminal enterprise was financed with dirty money earned from drug-smuggling. The US government charged that a significant amount of the cocaine dispatched by Khan went to the Eastern District of New York for further distribution. As an example, it cited a Guyanese drug trafficking organisation − the Queens Cartel − based in Queens, New York, which it said was supplied by Khan and was said to have distributed hundreds of kilogrammes of cocaine. Khan is believed to have laundered his drug-smuggling profits through banks in New York through the “Queen’s Cartel” to which he supplied cocaine.
Arnold and Sabrina Budhram, accused of being Khan’s co-conspirators, were arrested and charged with money laundering in April 2004 and their home and offices were searched by investigators who gathered a large amount of evidential material. According to court documents, a handwritten “money and drug ledger” found their home and bank records indicated that in 2001, a company associated with the Budhrams transferred money to a bank account in the name of Khan’s wife and child.
At home in Guyana, the extent of Roger Khan’s interests and properties became evident only when the Defence Force and the Police Force launched their joint `Operation Centipede’ in March 2006. By that time, the security situation had taken a turn for the worst. Glenn Hanoman who is one of Khan’s lawyers, confirmed that his client entered the property business when he developed a housing scheme at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara, by building over 100 houses. Soon afterwards, Khan purchased a large expanse of land at Blankenburg, West Coast Demerara, where he built his second housing scheme, called the Hibiscus Scheme. Khan then embarked on the construction of a third scheme, at New Hope on the East Bank of Demerara. Khan then launched a fourth housing scheme at Farm, also on the East Bank. Khan is also proprietor of a timber company on Kaow Island and had interests in several night clubs and other enterprises.
Khan was a crook. At all material times over the past 15 years, Khan’s criminal record was public knowledge. His criminal career began with a conviction in January 1992 in Montgomery County, USA, for breaking and entering and theft. While he was on probation for that offence, he was arrested in Burlington, Vermont, for receiving and possessing firearms while being a convicted felon. He was subsequently indicted and was released on bail in November 1993 but fled the jurisdiction to Guyana in 1994 in order to avoid prosecution. Despite being a felon and a fugitive from the law, he was able to move about Guyana with impunity and acquire property.
When asked to explain how such a crook was able to purchase public land that was put up for sale by the Guyana Sugar Corporation, President Jagdeo answered “Unless you have a conviction against a person, then you can’t say you can’t tender for public land.” The fact is that everyone knew that Khan was already a convict when he bought the properties!
Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan was one of the most complete criminals in Guyana’s history. He acquired vast properties, recruited serving police officers, ordered executions, imported and exported cocaine, laundered millions of dollars, possessed specialised intercept equipment and armed himself with a wide assortment of handguns and ammunition. All of this was possible only because of his special relationship with the Guyana Government. He enjoyed immunity from an indulgent administration and compliant law enforcement agencies. Even now, the administration has made no attempt to conduct official inquiries nor has the police force attempted to bring Khan and his well-known accomplices to justice.
His successful application to United States District Court Judge Dora L Irizarry to plead guilty to trafficking in 150 kilogrammes of cocaine, witness tampering and gun-running, is an anti-climax to a callous criminal career. He will go to jail for a few years but will leave many questions unanswered.