Bail denied to Trinidadian wanted in US on drug-trafficking charges

Shurlan Guppy -
Shurlan Guppy -

BAIL was denied to the Trinidadian arrested earlier this week by police and agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on charges of trafficking heroin and cocaine into the United States.

On Friday, acting Chief Magistrate Adrian Darmanie gave his reasons for denying bail to Shurlan Jason Guppy, 47, who was arrested at Ascot Road, Goodwood Park, Westmoorings, on Tuesday after an hour-and-a-half-long virtual hearing.

Guppy was not present on the court link for the bail application made by his attorneys Wayne Sturge and Mario Merritt followed by a strenuous objection by Senior Counsel Ravi Rajcoomar, the lead attorney for the requesting state – the US – where he is wanted to face the 11 charges.

The matter has been adjourned to October 9.

Guppy was arrested on an extradition warrant issued by Darmanie on September 21. He also faces local charges of possession of a firearm, ammunition and cocaine, which were allegedly found at his Ascot Road, Westmoorings, rental and his Jeep Rubicon during a search on Tuesday.

However, Darmanie said he would be willing to consider arguments on electronic monitoring once Guppy’s attorneys make the necessary applications to the court.

Darmanie said the factors he took into consideration were that Guppy was known by different names, faced local charges and was wanted in the US on 11 counts for various drug offences.

He said what caused the “most disquiet” to the court was that after Guppy was deported from the US in 2010, after he was convicted in 2009 of identity theft, making use of a social security number and falsely representing himself as an American citizen, he illegally returned the US in 2012 using fraudulent documents which led to his being deported again in 2014.

The magistrate also agreed with the requesting state that the court had to consider TT’s international obligations under the mutual assistance treaty with the US and the duty of comity between nations in the fight against transnational crime.

Darmanie advised of Guppy’s right to apply to a judge in chambers for bail and noted that the requesting state was ready to file its statements as early as next week so the extradition committal proceedings “should move expeditiously.”

In his submissions, Rajcoomar said Guppy should be considered a flight risk. He also said Guppy had shown no source of income to support his lifestyle, since, in his interview with police, he said he was unemployed, as his clothing business was being relocated, yet he was a tenant at Ascot Road with a $25,000 monthly rent and owned an “impressive speedboat,” which participated in the recently held Great Race.

The speed boat allegedly owned by Shurlan Guppy who is wanted in the US to face drug trafficking charges. The boat was searched by the police with Guppy's consent but nothing illegal was found. -

He also said Guppy’s wife and four of his five children were in the US.

Rajcoomar also pointed to the number of addresses linked to Guppy, including Port of Spain, two in Pt Cumana and Maracas St Joseph, apart from the Westmoorings rental.

“You have someone with several addresses, someone who is often in international waters as far as the Bahamas,” Rajcoomar said.

He also submitted the absence of travel documents – Guppy’s TT passport having expired in 2019 – his having been convicted and deported twice and the use of fraudulent documents suggested a “disregard for immigration law and the ability to create documents.”

“We suggest that the strength of the evidence establishes the likelihood for committal for extradition, Rajcoomar said. He also assured that the rule of speciality would be satisfied by the requesting state, since, according to him, the evidence against Guppy was “not simple,” but included wiretaps with an alleged accomplice as well as the seizure of heroin allegedly sent by post to the US.

“The record of the case suggests he has international connections...

“You have before you a fugitive on an extradition warrant.”

In rejecting Rajcoomar’s arguments, Merritt said his client had only one address at Ascot Road, and the others were places he had lived at in the past.

He also said Guppy would be willing to hand over his speedboat to the police.

“Is he really a flight risk? He had matters in the US, for which he attended. The only other place they have shown that he may have strong ties is in the US, who wants him.”

Merrit also said Guppy currently ran an online store, having had a physical store in West Mall that he had to close during the pandemic, and also had a ten-year-old autistic child who depended on him.

“A week before, he went to have his good character verified by the police.”

He also said the speed boat was searched by police with his client's consent and nothing was found.

Merritt also pointed to the length of time extradition proceedings could take and put the court on notice that his client intended to “challenge every aspect” of the case, including the authority to proceed which would have been signed by the Attorney General, giving the magistrate the go-ahead for the extradition proceedings.

Merritt pointed to the extradition matters involving former FIFA vice president Jack Warner and businessmen Ishwar Galbarasingh and Steve Ferguson, all of whom are also wanted in the US, to emphasise his argument on the length of time these matters take.

Rajcoomar rejected this, saying any delay would depend on the applications and arguments made by the defence.

The US is requesting Guppy’s extradition to Pennsylvania to face charges of trafficking US$1 million in heroin and cocaine to that state.

A statement from the US Embassy on Wednesday said Guppy is charged in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

He allegedly carries the aliases Shurlan Gorin, Raphael Oquendo, Christopher Hughes Matthews, Marc Roman, and Chalkie.

In its statement, the US Embassy said its DEA agents assisted the TT Transnational Organised Crime Unit (TOCU) in the investigation which led to Guppy’s arrest on Tuesday.

The embassy said during the early-morning execution of an arrest warrant, agents allegedly found a firearm and a kilogramme of cocaine at a residence.

In a separate release, the police service said Southern Division Task Force (SDTF) officers arrested Guppy.

Also appearing for the US are Netram Kowlessar, Raydon Dalrymple- Watts and the director of the Central Authority in the Office of Attorney General, Graham McClean.

The local charges would have to be stayed if Guppy is eventually extradited to the US.


"Bail denied to Trinidadian wanted in US on drug-trafficking charges"

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