0M cocaine bustAce rider Steven Vieira, whom the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) had wanted for questioning in connection with the $550 million cocaine bust at Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo, has been released on his own recognisance.Stephen VieiraVieira appeared before the Chief Magistrate on Monday, represented by Attorney-at-law Latchmie Rahamat, who successfully applied for the CANU arrest warrant, issued on May 16th following the discovery of the cocaine, to be discharged.Speaking later with Guyana Times, the attorney explained that her client had, on Thursday evening, been arrested by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit; but the 72-hour detention period has elapsed, hence her client has been released without any charges being laid against him.She, however, noted that the CANU investigations are continuing, and her client intends to co-operate because he intends to clear his name and establish his innocence of any implication in drug-trafficking.The attorney contends that while her client’s name indeed appears on documents that relate to the shipping of the lumber, none of the lumber was found in his possession.Vieira had been arrested on Thursday evening moments after disembarking a Fly Jamaica flight at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. He was reportedly in Jamaica for the Caribbean Motor Racing Championship, but when the ongoing narcotics investigation became known, the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club suspended his racing licence, making him ineligible to participate in the action.However, following his arrest, he gave a detailed statement to the investigating officers through his attorney.Two Fridays ago, members of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit swooped down on a lumber yard at Lot 227 Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo, where they conducted a search on a truck that was laden with several pallets of 1×6 dressed lumber that was being prepared for export to the United States.During the search, several boards were reportedly drilled randomly, and a whitish substance suspected to be cocaine was detected. The truck was escorted to CANU Headquarters, where the lumber was further examined, and it was discovered that each of the compromised boards had a dugout cavity with vacuum sealed plastic packets containing cocaine pasted therein.A total of 84.986 kilograms of cocaine, with a street value of $550 million, was unearthed. At the time, four workers at the lumber yard were taken into police custody, but were released on Monday last after it was established that they were only contracted to transport the lumber.Meanwhile, further investigations by the CANU ranks have led to the arrest of popular race car driver Nazim Gafoor and Haleem Mohamed. Gafoor’s father, as well as Stephen Vieira, was listed by CANU as a person of interest.Vieira has been listed on the shipping documents as the representative of Naraine Lall, who is the shipper of the consignment of lumber. With the help of the law enforcement officers, Tazim Gafoor was arrested and handed over to CANU.The Gafoors and Mohamed were subsequently released, but are expected to report to the CANU Headquarters on a daily basis. Narine Lall, the owner of the sawmill, is still out of the jurisdiction.
He is India’s best prospect to bag that elusive individual Gold medal at the Olympic Games but unfortunately World Billiards and Snooker Champion Pankaj Advani has not got that opportunity to make the nation proud at the grandest stage of them all.ALSO WATCH: SPORTS TODAYDespite making a few appearances at the Asian Games level, cue sports has failed to get a berth at the Olympics but efforts are on by the Game’s governing body to get an entry into the 2024 Games.The 32-year-old Bengaluru lad has won 18 World titles in Billiards and Snooker to go along with his Gold in 2006 and 2010 Asian Games, and while he would welcome the opportunity to win Gold at the Olympics, Pankaj says there is more to sports than just the Olympics.Question: Pankaj you have won everything in the world of cue sports, I am sure you would welcome the opportunity to win a Gold for India at the Olympics.Pankaj Advani: Obviously it will be great to have cue sports at quadrennial events but at the same time I have always maintained that Olympics is not the be-all of sports. I think it is about consistency and if a player is consistently achieving year after year then that for me is a bigger achievement. I am not trying to take anything away from our Olympic medalists or any other quadrennial event winners because I feel Asian Games & Olympics are also very very important as it is a huge stage and comes once in 4 years. But there should be no discrimination between quadrennial and annual events. In fact when I met the sports minister I actually explained this to him that it is not our fault that a particular sports is not there at the Olympics. It is like if you are working in a movie and as an actor you deliver a hit once every 4 years as compared to an actor who delivers a hit year after year then who would you back? It is obviously the person who is more consistent. So I feel while it will be great to have cue sports at the Olympics but I do not think it is the be-all of sports really and I think there are a lot of other things to look forward to.advertisementIBSF World Billiards and Snooker Championï¿½?ï¿½?ï¿½?ï¿½?ï¿½???ï¿½??? what a month this has been! #17 and #18 pic.twitter.com/x06Bxq3gM8- Pankaj Advani (@PankajAdvani247) November 28, 2017Question: You have been very consistent and have even been bestowed the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting honour. Given a chance, which format do you think will do well at the Olympic Games?Pankaj Advani: I can only talk about which format will do well at the Olympics but as far as what needs to be done then you would have to ask the authorities, the federations, the international bodies because they seem to have the answers and they seem to be going about it the right way if that is the right way because so far it has not been successful. All I can say is that the 6-red format in snooker seems to be the best way. It is quick, it is fast paced and it attracts a lot of players and is unpredictable so anybody can win. If they go with the traditional 15-reds format then it will have to be very short, it will have to be a best of 5 if it has to make it to the quadrennial events. We were part of the Asian Games till 2010 but for some reason Korea (in 2014) did not want cue sports to be a part of their games so it was removed but I am hopeful that in the Asian Games it will be included in 2022 in China.Question: You have excelled in both Billiards and Snooker and I am sure you will welcome the inclusion of either of them into the Olympics. But which format do you enjoy more?Pankaj Advani: It is always difficult to answer that because I have always played both sports. I have always maintained that I do not like to just concentrate on one as I feel that it becomes too monotonous for me as they say variety is the spice of life. So it is the same case for me where I like the variety and I like to juggle between different formats. Both Billiards and Snooker are different in terms of scoring pattern, in terms of technique, mindset and approach. So there are a lot of different areas in which a cueist is tested in and that for me is the ultimate challenge, to be able to excel in both. I am so glad that November happened that I could prove it to myself before proving it to anyone else from the outside world or to the haters, I proved to myself that I can win both world titles at the same time which obviously has never been done before.advertisementQuestion: India recently hosted the U-17 FIFA World Cup, we hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games, hockey world cup, the cricket world cup among other global events. Do you think that will inspire youngsters to take up sports by seeing the world’s best in action? Or do you think the country should first invest at the grass-root level before investing in such events?Pankaj Advani: I think it is important to host international events in every sport because it inspires a lot of youngsters and they can actually get to witness the standard at which a particular game is played, but at the same time I feel that the funds first need to be utilised to develop grass-root levels and to actually develop our own players and make them reach a certain level where then they can compete internationally. So it should not happen the other way round. I feel that we need to start from scratch and build up our talent but maybe doing talent scouting or having coaching development programs and I am sure our sports minister has thought of these things and then reach a level where our athletes are able to compete with international players and teams and then host events so that it becomes a sort of a test for us and we can actually see where we stand. At the same time I do feel good that events of such magnitude are happening in India.