Detainee confesses to constructing airstrip in Rupununi

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Illegal aircraft

– 2 others in custody as Police hunt businessman

As the Guyana Police Force continues with its probe into the discovery of the illegal Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft and a makeshift airstrip that was found in the Upper Takutu region last month, one of the three men detained for questioning has admitted to constructing the airstrip.
Head of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Wendell Blanhum, confirmed to Guyana Times on Saturday that ranks from the CID Headquarters contacted the suspect in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and during an interview, he admitted to his involvement in the construction and preparation of the said airstrip which facilitated the landing of the illegal aircraft discovered recently.
“As a result of the information received, the Police are currently pursuing one of the businessmen, who was previously held but was subsequently released on bail, for further questioning,” the Crime Chief disclosed.
It was also related to this publication that the two other persons are still in Police custody assisting with investigation as the probe continues.
On Monday last, acting Police Commissioner, David Ramnarine, told reporters that documents found in the Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft may have links to South American neighbours, Brazil and Colombia.
However, the acting Top Cop was unable to say who the individuals were that brought the illegal aircraft into Guyana.
“I know some collaboration is being done with the Civil Aviation Authority and another agency but I don’t have the benefit of those details at this point in time… I know a few persons were in custody, and I think one or two brought to CID headquarters and interviewed, questioned and so on but I will await the outcome of the report,” the acting Police Commissioner had stated.
Just over three weeks ago, Police ranks in F Division (Interior Locations) went to an area in North Rupununi, where they discovered a 5400-foot long, 45-foot wide airstrip. As they were leaving the site, an aircraft landed and upon seeing the Police approaching, the occupants escaped into the nearby bushes.
In addition to the identification documents, several pieces of communication equipment, including cellular phones, flashlights, a quantity of dried ration and medical supplies were found aboard the aircraft.
Additionally, a search of the area unearthed three abandoned camps, in which canned food and other items were found along with containers of suspected aviation fuel.
An inter-agency probe has since been launched and it was unearthed that the aircraft, which initially had a Colombian registration number, was actually registered to Brazil’s third largest banks, Banco Bradesco.
However, an official from the bank said that they do not own any planes but it is registered to them since the owner may have acquired a loan to purchase it. A mining company named Riwa SA Incorporated Investments and Participants operated the aircraft.
A history of the aircraft shows that it was owned by 11 companies in the past 27 years.
Nevertheless, Ramnarine said investigators are expected to wrap up the probe within the coming days.
This discovery has raised concerns within Government and during a recent visit to the Guyana Defence Force Base Camp Kanuku, located at the border town of Lethem, Region Nine, Commander in Chief, Brigadier David Granger, told Army officers to be vigilant at the country’s borders. He also called on various stakeholders in the region to work together to protect the borders against intruders.