Cyprus Mail

Russian link to cocaine haul (Update 4)

The director of the company which imported electrical generators crammed full of cocaine and commissioned the warehouse in which they were stored denied any involvement when remanded by Limassol court on Monday for eight days.

But the 44-year-old man implicated a Russian partner who is now being sought by police in cooperation with Interpol and Europol. Police said the two organisations will assist in investigations, as many of the names and companies mentioned in his statement, are abroad.

Police told the court they are investigating a case of conspiracy to commit a crime and importation of a Class A controlled substance. In requesting the remand, the investigating officer said the suspect had given names and detailed events related to the import of the generators, going as far as saying he had suspected they may have contained drugs.

The man appeared without a lawyer and did not object to his being held saying his “aim was to prove my innocence”.

According to police, the suspect who lives abroad, occasionally coming to Cyprus as his business is based here, named a Russian lawyer as being a partner in the importation of the generators. He said he had suspicions about the cargo as the Russian had mentioned being threatened by the senders, and because the specific generators stored in the warehouse would not work in this part of the world without modifications.

Police said they needed to take some 35 more statements from persons employed in various companies, workers at Limassol port and others the suspect had communicated with.

Computers from the house and offices of the man were seized for examination and a request for lifting the confidentiality clause on his phone records would be put to the authorities.

The man, who had informed the authorities he was abroad when the haul was uncovered last Thursday, was arrested at 9.40pm at Larnaca airport on Sunday when he arrived back on the island. He was taken directly to the Limassol offices of the drug squad where he was questioned until the early hours of the morning.

Last Thursday, authorities found 142 packages with 156 kilos of the drug hidden in secret compartments inside the fuel tanks of two generators stored in the bonded warehouse near Limassol port.

Investigations so far point to the generators having been loaded in two shipments from Chile which passed through Dutch and German ports before arriving in Cyprus.

Police say the loads, the largest ever of cocaine intercepted in Cyprus, breaking the 100 kilo record bust in March last year, were shipped in a roundabout way in order not to raise suspicions when re-imported into Holland, thought to have been the planned final destination.

The traffickers went to great lengths to conceal the loads which, without the intelligence received, would never had been discovered using scanners or other mechanical detectors, proof being the fact that they passed through two European ports undetected.

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