Man on cocaine charges here likely linked to UK bust

The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) has all but confirmed that a St James man who appeared before a magistrate yesterday on narcotics charges was linked to a multi-million dollar cocaine find in the United Kingdom.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police responsible for crime Lybron Sobers said Larrie Chesterfield Thompson of Risk Road, Fitts Village, St James was charged after police searched his residence last Wednesday and uncovered liquid cocaine hidden in a cupboard.

Thompson appeared in the Holetown Magistrates’ Court yesterday and was remanded to prison on charges of unlawful possession, possession with intent to supply and trafficking in cocaine and is due to reappear in court on August 3. “We are doing some other investigations to see if it is possible to bring any more charges . . . against him and/or another guy,” Sobers told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.

Sobers did not say what prompted police to search Thompson’s home, however, a report in London’s Evening Standard on Saturday July 23 said lawmen here had arrested two men in connection with a £3 million (approximately Bds$8 million) cocaine bust at Gatwick Airport on July 17.

According to the media report, UK Border police identified a suspect shipment arriving at Gatwick from Barbados and found 18 kilos of liquid cocaine on board, hidden inside three metal canisters described as “oil filters”.

The London Evening Standard said Errol Watson, a 54-year-old Barbados-born UK resident, was arrested and charged in connection with the shipment. Watson was held outside his home in Wanstead, East London on July 20 — the same day that Thompson was arrested — and was subsequently charged with importation of controlled drugs. The paper also quoted a spokesman for the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) as saying that two other men, aged 28 and 41, were also arrested in London, but were released on bail.

Pressed to say if a link had been established, Sobers replied: “It is looking like that. That side has not been completed as yet, but it looks that way.”

The investigation was a collaboration between the NCA and the RBPF, and the UK national law enforcement and police agency praised police here for making it possible to interrupt an organized crime operation, by identifying the suspected air cargo shipment, the British paper said.

It quoted Steve McIntyre from the NCA’s Border Policing Command as saying: “We believe this operation has successfully disrupted an organized crime group who thought unaccompanied freight was a low-risk way of moving class A drugs into the UK.

“Our investigation is ongoing, both here and in the Caribbean.”

The identity of the second person arrested here has not been revealed. 

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