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Drug ring with Guyana link busted
(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) -- An international drug ring involving persons from Trinidad, Canada, Guyana, London and the United States has been interrupted by officers of the Organised Crime Narcotics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB).

The officers claimed success after their latest seizure on Thursday afternoon, when OCNFB detectives raided a Champs Fleurs guesthouse and arrested two Nigerian nationals and a Trinidad resident.

A few minutes later, a Russian woman was held while attempting to board a Caribbean Airlines flight to London with packages of cocaine strapped to her body.

Up to Friday, OCNFB detectives had seized cocaine with an estimated street value of over $8 million.

The Russian woman, Sanda Tamasausku, 21, a hairdresser from Latvia, appeared in the Arima Magistrates' Court before Senior Magistrate Debra Quintyne Friday afternoon and was denied bail. Tamasausku is expected to re-appear on March 5.

She is charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and attempting to export a prohibited drug, the latter being a Customs and Excise charge.

Police reports state that around 4.30 p.m. on Thursday, OCNFB officers were on duty at the Piarco International Airport when they were alerted to a woman acting suspiciously as she was about to board Caribbean Airlines flight CA 900 to Heathrow Airport, London.

The woman was stopped and searched by officers, who discovered 1.07 kilos of cocaine strapped to her body. The cocaine has an estimated street value of $400,000.

In an earlier exercise, narcotics detectives arrested two Nigerian males, aged 31 and 32, and a 39-year-old Trinidadian female in a guesthouse.

The woman, from Cumuto, is employed as a security officer and will appear before Senior Magistrate Lianne Lee Kim in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' 4A Court tomorrow to answer charges of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

Police said the trio had been under surveillance for some time and when the room which they occupied was raided, cocaine was found stuffed in several cartons of Crayola markers, flash lights and thermos flasks.

Cocaine was also found in the lining of a suitcase.

OCNFB officers said the cocaine, which was in a powdery form, weighed 4.2 kilos and had an estimated street value of $1.7 million. The cocaine, officers added, was to be shipped to North America and Europe.

Senior narcotics officers said both busts were made after intensive surveillance exercises and remain amazed at the innovative concepts that are being adopted by drug mules in a bid to traffic both cocaine and marijuana.

It was only on Monday that OCNFB detectives seized cocaine valued at over $5 million aboard a Caribbean Airlines aircraft at Piarco. The cocaine, stored in pellets, were hidden inside carailli and were part of a vegetable shipment that had left Guyana. The flight was in-transit to Trinidad on a flight destined to Toronto, Canada.

Contacted Friday, Guyana custom officials said they were unaware of the bust and noted that their security system at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport was up to mark. No one was held in connection with that bust, but senior local narcotics officials said they are pursuing various leads.

The exercises were spearheaded by ASPs Franklyn Edwards and Allan Crooks.

It was only last week that Caribbean Airlines director of Corporate Affairs Dionne Ligoure boasted that Caribbean Airlines' security systems "meet and surpass the regulatory standards required by all airlines".

Teen killed in Mash Eve accident
AN ACCIDENT between a motor cyclist and a pedal cyclist on the Number 53 road, Corentyne, Berbice, resulted in the death of a 17-year old on the eve of Mashramani.

Dead is Quacy Keron McBean, of Number 51 Village who sustained head and other injuries in the Thursday night accident.

He was rushed to the Skeldon Hospital, but his condition necessitated an immediate transfer to the New Amsterdam Hospital for advanced medical care.

However, since there was a delay in securing transportation to take the patient to hospital, by the time he was transported, it was too late. He died shortly after arrival at the New Amsterdam Hospital, relatives said.

McBean was a student of the Central Corentyne High School, the Skeldon Technical Institute, and a reservist in the Guyana Defence Force (Camp Soweyo). He was the youngest of six children for his parents, Michael McBean, a representative of the Guyana Sugar Corporation and Stay Yearwood, a member of the Guyana Police Force.

A source said the motorcyclist, a mechanic employed with the Guyana Sugar Corporation, had a short while before crashed into three cows at Number #70 Village Corentyne. He was injured in that accident and is in the New Amsterdam Hospital, the source said.

The motorcyclist was said to have been heading to New Amsterdam when he crashed into the cows, and injured, he decided to head back home to Crabwood Creek. It was while heading to Crabwood Creek that he was involved in the second accident which claimed the life of McBean.

News of McBean’s death came just hours after the burial of his cousin, Hubert Lindo, decapitated by the propeller of an aircraft at the Kurupung airstrip one week earlier.

McBean’s mother, who was overnighting at the home of the Lindos at Mahaica, East Coast Demerara, received the message of her son’s death around 22:00h, and was forced to cut short her stay.

Relatives said the accident that claimed McBean’s life occurred at Number 53 Village, where he was born and spent more than 16 years of his life.

His family had only moved to Number 51 Village about four months ago.

On the night of the accident, he had left home for choir practice for a church concert at Number 53. (SHIRLEY THOMAS)

Punctures hit Firestorm dragon
-- not in Linden Mash jump up
DIGICEL will not be taking its “Firestorm” clan to Linden today for the mining town’s annual Mash Jump Up, dampening the hype to an anticipated showdown with rivals “Blue Power” of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Designer Michelle Cole, who teamed up with her partner Trevor Rose to create the Firestorm theme, said yesterday the band did not register for the Linden event.

She added that the mishaps with the float on Mashramani Day Friday had nothing to do with the decision not to go to Linden.

The Firestorm dragon could not complete the route to the National Park Friday, as the wheels carrying the float were punctured, Cole said.

She said the band changed four wheels from the starting point at Camp Street to the Irving and Vlissengen Road junction – halfway to the National Park. She said it was disappointing, but she still felt the band did well.

Coordinator of the activities in Linden, Mr. Leon Roberts yesterday said Linden was well prepared to stage one of its biggest ever costume and float parade in years, looking forward to the Firestorm and Blue Power contingents converging in the town.

The Regional Democratic Council of Region 10 planned event comes off today and will start from Christiansburg on the west bank of the Demerara River before crossing the Mackenzie/Wismar bridge and end at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground.

Roberts, the Public Information Officer of the RDC of Region 10, said last year’s event was easily the best for a long time, but this year’s is expected to exceed that.

The region did not send a contingent to this year’s activities in Georgetown due to constraints but has been able to finance three floats and efforts are on stream for others to come from the just concluded national costume and float parade in Georgetown held on Friday.

According to Roberts, the programme starts at 12:00h and “so far we have been able to secure sponsorship for sound systems from firms like Ansa McAl, tentative commitments from Digicel and approaches have been made to Banks DIH and DDL as well as GT&T and some other companies…We are awaiting to see what their inputs will be.”

Roberts said the schools in Linden will be participating and their contingents will be placed in front as there will not be any interaction between the youths and the adults as there will be a great effort to separate the children from adults.

He is calling on residents to come out and support the parade and said the three regional costumes will cater for those who want to be part of the fun, as some twenty five tops will be made available for the adults to join the three bands.

Pope speaks out against `designer babies’
ROME, (Reuters) - Pope Benedict yesterday condemned genetic engineering and other scientific practices that allow people to select so-called "designer babies" by screening them for defects.

In a speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life, a Church body of experts, the Pope also attacked artificial insemination and the widespread use of medical tests that can detect diseases and inherited disorders in embryos.

"In developed countries, there is a growing interest for the most sophisticated biotechnological research to introduce subtle and extensive eugenics methods in the obsessive search for the 'perfect child'," the Pope said.

He said the right to life was increasingly under attack in the world, citing pressures to legalise abortion in Latin America, and euthanasia in the richest countries.

He also spoke out against civil unions as an alternative to marriage, his latest criticism of a bill approved this month by the Italian government granting rights to unwed and gay couples.

Turning that bill into law now appears a more remote possibility, as it was dropped from a government programme submitted by Romano Prodi to his allies to allow him to stay on as prime minister and end the latest political crisis.

Michael Jackson going Muslim and Building a Mosque?






Michael Jackson Islam

According to a report on the Jewish website ynet.com, quoting the Arab-Israeli newspaper Panorama, Michael Jackson is moving from Jehovah’s Witness to Muslim:

“The singer said he decided to convert to Islam because he is convinced it is the closest religion to his personal beliefs.

Jackson also noted he intends to soon move all his assets and his studio from the U.S. to Bahrain, and expressed his hope to be rid of various legal troubles and enjoy the kind of freedom he says he does not have in America.

Notably, if the reports are correct Jackson would not be the first member of his family to make the move to Islam. His brother, Jermaine, who moved to the Gulf nation of Dubai, is also a convert.

According to the sources, Jermaine was the one to provide his famous brother with books about Islam and encouraged him to convert. The report says the pop star read the books and even added his comments on some pages.

Jackson was the center of recent controversy after it was reported that he referred to Jews as “leeches” in a phone message to a former business partner.

Referring to Jews, Jackson was heard saying that “they’re like leeches…I’m so tired of it…They start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money, big house, cars and everything. End up penniless. It is a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose.””

His Jewish attorney, Brian Oxman, denied on eurweb.com that Michael Jackson is anti-Semitic :

“”I have been with the Jackson family for 15 years, and I’m Jewish. I have never once seen anything anti-Semitic from him or from his family.” …Oxman doesn’t deny that it’s probably Jackson’s voice on the tapes, but insists that he has never experienced any anti-Semitism from the singer or any other member of the Jackson family.

Jackson’s rep Raymone Bain is also denying that Jackson is anti-Semitic. In a press release e-mailed Wednesday, she wrote:

“Michael Jackson does not have a racist bone in his body. Never would he say anything, or do anything, that would be offensive to any ethnic group, or hurtful to any ethnic group. It is not in his character, or his being. He has spent his entire life reaching out to people throughout the world by spreading love through his music, and his philanthropic efforts. It is unfortunate that these tapes are being disseminated throughout the airways without any due diligence with regards to the authenticity.”

An Iranian website reports that Michael Jackson, who recently settled down in Bahrain has donated a huge amount of money for building a state-of-the-art mosque near his luxury palace in the Bahraini capital:

“The proposed mosque would be designated for learning the principles and teachings of Islam, as well as teaching of English language, for which high-standard teachers would be brought from United States under his personal supervision, the spokesman said.

Jackson did so as a token of appreciation to the Bahraini people, who welcomed him and treated him as if he was one of the citizens of their country.”

Sources close to Michael Jackson denied the rumours that he was planning to donate money for the building of this mosque according the Bahrain based Gulf Daily News. In the past Michael Jackson donated huge amounts of money for building Watchtower Propertie