Collin Hooper (Photo courtesy Stabroek News) â”a charge the agency ‘vehemently denies’
SOUTH Ruimveldt businessman, Collin Hooper was on Friday again arrested by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), and through his attorney, Siand Dhurjon, is alleging that his rights have been infringed.
Hooper is specifically alleging that he was brutalised by CANU ranks while in their custody, and that said ranks planted evidence on him, in an effort to frame him, which allegations CANU Attorney, Konyo Sandiford, says the Unit “vehemently denies”.
Hooper had first been arrested by CANU back in February 2018 and charged with trafficking, following a raid at his home, during which some 4 grams of cocaine was unearthed, and he was allegedly seen flushing an undisclosed quantity of the said substance down a toilet. That matter is still before the court.
Last Friday, he was again detained, along with his son, Collin Hooper Jr. and others, after a package containing some 700 grams of cocaine was found in a trench near his home. His lawyer on Sunday issued a statement on his behalf, in which he is alleging that a named person was offered $200,000 by “someone who works for CANU” to “set up” Hooper. Dhurjon’s also claims in his statement that “Hooper and his son were slapped and punched in their faces, bellies and about their bodies by three CANU officers”, while their other fellow officers just stood by and watched.
Based on the evidence at hand, Dhurjon is calling for an inquiry and investigation into the incident, and says he intends to forward his findings to the authorities.
“It was long believed that CANU used violent and dishonest tactics to achieve their purposes, but now we have actual reports from independent eyewitnesses who are willing to come forward,” Dhurjon said, adding: “CANU will not be allowed to continue acting like this with impunity. The Rule of Law demands that they be held accountable. We have to refuse to live in a country where we are afraid of abuse and victimisation from officers of the law, and hold them accountable for their illegal activities.”
Sandiford, the agency’s lawyer, has countered Dhurjon’s allegations saying it’s all lies, and that the Unit will be releasing an official statement shortly.
“We’re vehemently denying all the allegations,” Sandiford stressed, adding that CANU officers were not initially aware that their quarry was Hooper: “He is clutching at straws; he can do that in court,” Dhurjon said, adding: “There was a sting operation; they followed it, and at the end of the operation, they ended up at his house. Our ranks did not even know they were going there; they were following a trail, and the trail led them there. Right now he is in custody pending investigations.”
Dhurjon said that during the raid, Hooper and his son were searched, and that a plastic bag with a white substance inside it was retrieved from a trench. The contents of that plastic bag, he said, was weighed and found to be over 700 grams of cocaine. Dhurjon is alleging that the plastic bag was planted by the “named person” working for CANU, and that three other persons who ere arrested at the same time as the Hoopers have already been released, while they and the person who was offered the $200,000 bribe are still in custody.
Noting that CANU has no evidence against his client, Dhurjon said in the statement: “Three other men were arrested who were present at the scene, but they were set free after they were questioned repeatedly as to whether they could say if it was Hooper who stashed the cocaine in the trench. It is unclear whether CANU intends to set the men free in spite of having no evidence against them.”
Sandiford has since confirmed that the Hoopers and the other person are still in custody, and that the 72 hours that CANU is allowed to hold them does not expire until Monday afternoon. He said that when the 72 hours will have expired, it will be decided whether or not the Hoopers will be charged. On the allegations of brutality, Sandiford again insisted that they’re all trumped up.