Prime suspect surrenders to police with counsel over illegal aircraft

Georgetown: A businessman from Tabinga, Lethem, who was being sought for questioning in relation to an illegal aircraft which was found at Santa Fe, North Rupununi, Region 9 on August 13, 2017 has turned himself into police custody with his attorney.

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) in a press statement Tuesday said the “prime suspect who allegedly fled the Jurisdiction shortly after he was being sought for questioning in relation to an illegal aircraft… is now in police custody, having been handed over in the presence of his Attorney.”

Police said a team of detectives led by a senior officer travelled to Lethem on Saturday to receive him and will be taken to the Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters for further investigation.

On August 13, 2017, the twin-engine Beechcraft aircraft was discovered at a 5,400-foot long, 45-foot wide illegal airstrip in the Santa Fe Area, North Rupununi, Region 9, by the police after some four weeks of surveillance which began when the aircraft was noticed circling the area.

At the time of the discovery, three men were allegedly seen running from the aircraft. They were never found.

The police had stated that the airstrip itself was previously destroyed by the Guyana Defense Force and attempted to have been recently repaired.

On checking the aircraft, a quantity of dry ration, medical supplies, gents clothing and footwear, two hand-held radios, flashlights, cellular phones and an identification card amongst other items were found.

Sixteen 10-gallon containers, which are suspected to have contained aviation fuel, were also discovered after a search of the area surrounding the illegal airstrip. Authorities had also unearthed three abandoned camps in which canned food and other items were found.

In October, a report was completed and given to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon which is now with Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan.

The twin-engine aircraft bearing registration PR-IMG is allegedly tied to an investment bank in neighbouring Brazil – Banco Bradesco. That bank had facilitated the sale of the aircraft between its owners, a Rio-based company and another private entity.

The bank is listed by the Brazilian authorities as the owner, since the process of transfer of ownership is ongoing.

Authorities said that Guyana has been in communication with some persons from Brazil who have claimed the aircraft was stolen.

Government has been working with local and international partners to build capacity and strengthen security within and around the country.

The aircraft was flown to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport shortly after being discovered by security forces.