Why Didn’t SLASPA Know About Cocaine?
TToni Nicholas hree weeks ago a reliable source informed the STAR that packages of cocaine had been found on an Air Canada plane as it prepared to depart Hewannora Airport en-route to Toronto. We were also informed that two employees of the ground handling company at the airport, CDSL, were suspended pending an investigation. In last Saturday’s STAR we broke the story even though to date there has been no statement from the police or the Saint Lucia Air and Seaports Authority (SLASPA).
Actually, SLASPA’s general manager Keigan Cox had last week categorically denied our prepublication story.
“I think this is something I would have known about,” he said. “I can assure you that I have not heard of such an incident. In fact I have my head of ports police right here and I will put you on speaker phone so you can ask him yourself. If something like that did happen he would know about it.”
I proceeded to ask the ports official whether there was any truth to the story that packages of cocaine were found on an Air Canada flight at Hewanorra. He chuckled then issued an emphatic “No!” He assured me that any incident such as I had mentioned “would have been brought to the attention of our office.”
As I say, we ran anyway with what we had from a reliable source. On Tuesday morning I took a call from SLASPA’s Dorna Regis. “Well,” she said, “we are prepared to send you a statement on the matter.” I reminded her of my deadline and she promised to get back to me later that day or the next.
On Thursday morning I received another call from Regis. She recalled our earlier conversation then informed me that SLASPA would not be issuing a statement after all. Moreover, all related queries should be directed to the police.
“Are you admitting SLASPA acknowledges what I wrote is true?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied, “but it is a matter the police are investigating and you may wish to contact them. However, none of our staff has been fired over the matter.”
On Thursday I sought further enlightenment from SLASPA’s GM, to no avail. Efforts to reach Police Commissioner Vernon Francois or his deputy Frances Henry proved useless.
We have learned this week that there is now an embargo on CDSL staff at Hewannora Airport boarding Air Canada flights. By all our source has told us, the cocaine packages were placed on the plane by someone employed at the airport.
This year there have been several incidents of local and international drug mules slipping through Hewannora Airport security, en route to the United States, Canada and the UK where at least three have been caught by Heathrow officials.
Most recently UK police intercepted a 23-year-old who was later charged with smuggling 340g of cocaine into London from Saint Lucia!
SLASPA’s General Manager Keigan Cox: Did someone deliberately keep him in the dark?