Pepper cocaine suspect Reginald Rodrigues yesterday showed up at the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) with his lawyer and was last night in the Brickdam lock-ups preparing for further questioning today.
Rodrigues, who was alleged to be the shipper of the pepper consignment seized in Canada on December 8, 2008 went underground after the bust became public and was able to evade an attempt to arrest him here.
It is believed he had fled to Suriname via the backtrack but had apparently crossed into Venezuela before travelling back here. He turned himself in yesterday following an aggressive drive by CANU to have him surrender. Sources say under questioning by CANU he denied having anything to do with the cocaine and said he had shipped the pepper sauce on behalf of someone else. CANU laid out to him what they knew about his alleged involvement and sources say intense grilling is to continue today. Rodrigues was the first person that law enforcement authorities had attempted to nab here after Canadian authorities revealed that they had found a large amount of cocaine fitted into the dividers of boxes carrying bottles of pepper sauce. Rodrigues however evaded capture and was not heard from until yesterday. His wife had earlier turned herself in and authorities cleared her of any involvement in the matter.
Rodrigues is one of a list of people that CANU has turned the screws on in its quest to clamp down on the ring that smuggled two separate shipments of cocaine in the pepper sauce cartons.
Sources say local law enforcement authorities are pressing their counterparts in Canada to either make a formal request for the extradition of persons they believed were deeply involved in the shipping of the cocaine or to provide information so that charges can be pressed against them here.
Thus far, CANU has questioned the key players in the organization that smuggled 376 kilos of cocaine in the cartons. One shipment was busted on December 8 in New Brunswick, Canada and the other was nabbed on December 24 in St Croix, the US Virgin Islands after Canadian authorities tipped off the US DEA.
Following the seizure of the first pepper cocaine shipment Mahendrapaul Doodnauth, who unloaded the boxes at a rented storage facility on Rexdale Boulevard in Toronto was arrested by Canadian authorities. He was later charged with importing cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
CANU then issued a bulletin for Indarpaul Doodnauth and he made himself available to the agency for questioning. Doodnauth, an East Coast-based businessman is the brother of Mahendrapaul Doodnauth.
Another man wanted for questioning in relation to the pepper sauce, Orlando Watson has been in touch with the authorities here. Other local figures have also been questioned including a businessman associated with the car trade.
While no charges have been brought here, CANU believes it has disrupted this particular ring and has instilled fear and distrust in the main players. Locals involved in the business have also come under increasing pressure from the financiers of the drug supplies and their Colombian suppliers.