The dismissal of a major drug case last week in which a taxi driver was charged with being in possession of more than twenty million dollars worth of compressed marijuana has been raising eyebrows among observers and has since attracted the concerns of at least one diplomatic mission.
The case in question dates back to December 2015 when police intercepted a car during a roadblock exercise at Vigilance on the East Coast of Demerara, and unearthed some 17.9 kilos of compressed marijuana which carried an estimated street value of $20 million dollars.
At the time of the drug bust, police had questioned and subsequently detained the driver Cecil Alonzo, and a female passenger by the name of Nicola Ramprashad.
However, before the matter could have been brought to court, the Guyana Guardian was reliably informed that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had instructed the police to immediately withdraw the drug trafficking charge against Ms. Nicola Ramprashad, and to charge the driver only.
No explanation was provided by the DPP as to why the charge against the young woman should have been withdrawn.
And even though the police decided to later rely on the woman to be their material witness in the matter against the driver, this publication understands that she never showed up in court and cannot be located.
Several legal minds have since reasoned that it would have been erroneous of the DPP not to charge Ms. Ramprashad with drug trafficking since charging the driver alone and letting the other suspect go would have prejudiced the case from the inception and lead to a possible dismissal.
And this is exactly what had happened when the matter was concluded last Friday at the Vigilance Magistrate’s court.
The dismissed case has since sparked a series of social media inquiry, as many questioned whether the DPP’s office had properly advised the police or whether any of the legal officers there was induced into not charging Ms. Ramprashad with drug trafficking.
While there seems to be no intention to appeal the case, many felt that the end result of such a clear-cut narcotics case can weaken the morale of the policemen who had worked hard to bring the case to court in the first place.
Efforts to solicit a comment from the Director of Public Prosecutions Ms. Shalimar Ali-Hack regarding the questionable outcome of the case has since been futile.
Major drug busts in Guyana are rare since major drug traffickers appear to be enjoying a reasonable amount of protection from prosecution or even arrest.
The United States and Canada have repeatedly labeled Guyana as a major transshipment point for drugs en route to North America and Europe.
Both nations have also lamented that in spite of their support for the fight against illegal drugs, the conviction rate in Guyana has remained evidently low.