Customs officer among five arrested in drug raid

A Cayman Islands customs officer was arrested in a Friday night drug raid in George Town along with three foreign nationals from Venezuela and a West Bay resident, police and customs officers announced Monday.

The raid was conducted by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force and Customs enforcement unit at a George Town apartment, netting cocaine and cash, officers said.

A 31-year-old Bodden Town man arrested in the operation was a customs officer. Customs Collector Charles Clifford said Monday that the man has been suspended from duty. No charges had been filed by press time Monday against any of the five people arrested.

“While the presumption of innocence must apply in all cases, I also wish to categorically state that there is absolutely no place in the Customs Department for any officer who is engaged in criminal activity,” Mr. Clifford said. “I will not allow the integrity of our hard-working and dedicated customs officers to be brought into question because of the conduct of any corrupt officer.”

The three foreign nationals are aged 51, 32 and 22. They are all in police custody, along with the customs officer.

The West Bay resident, a 39-year-old woman, was released on police bail.

RCIPS Commissioner Derek Byrne said Friday’s raid is one of several successful operations in which police and customs officers have worked together in recent weeks.

Mr. Byrne’s comments refer to two drug raids conducted in George Town on May 22 in which four people were arrested for drugs and immigration-related offenses.

The first operation happened just before dawn in the Savannah area, leading to the arrest of two woman and a man on suspicion of ganja possession.

A noon raid later that same day on Marina Drive in George Town led to the arrest of a 45-year-old Jamaican man on suspicion of drugs and immigration offenses.

A second suspect at the Marina Drive location “violently resisted arrest,” assaulting a customs officer and a police detective, managing to escape.

The four suspects arrested in the two raids have all appeared in court on drugs charges.

“It is gratifying to continue to see the benefits of the collaboration between the Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force and Customs enforcement,” Mr. Byrne said.

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