Businessman questioned in suspected drug trafficking

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A prominent local businessman was called in for questioning by the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) over suspected drug trafficking following an operation at sea between Antigua and Redonda.
Well-placed sources said during that operation on Friday morning, nine other men were arrested after they were spotted dumping a number of packages at sea on three separate vessels, one of which belongs to the businessman.
OBSERVER media was told that the authorities believe the packages contained an illegal drug because the men immediately discarded them when the Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force Coast Guard began piloting towards their boats near Redonda.
The businessman was released pending further investigations and had no comment when OBSERVER media contacted him yesterday.
A source said he told investigators he was unaware that someone had taken out his boat, and he further denied knowing all but one of the men.
Five of the nine men found at sea were Antiguans and they were released from custody late yesterday, the source disclosed. However, two Venezuelans who were also nabbed remained in custody up to last evening. Meanwhile, an Anguillan and a Trinidadian were released on Monday pending further investigations.
According to reports, the Coast Guard received information about the vessels and they continued their patrol and spotted the men at sea.
The source said by the time the Coast Guard got close to the vessels, all the packages had already been dumped.
According to that source, the Coast Guard does not have the capacity to recover the packages given the depth at that part of the ocean. It is therefore unlikely that the men will be charged, he said.
The Director of the ONDCP Lieutenant Colonel Edward Croft declined to comment on the specificity of the operation but said “the organisation continues to work assiduously to protect the borders of Antigua & Barbuda and we continue to work with our partners to ensure the safety of nation”.

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