Cash jet pilot convicted of cocaine smuggling, money laundering

first_imgGuyanese businessman and pilot, Khamraj Lall, has been convicted in a United States court over a series of offences, including cocaine smuggling and money laundering, US Attorney Craig Carpenito announced on Friday.According to a statement from the Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey, the businessman was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, money laundering, structuring monetary instruments, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring.The District Attorney’s Office said Lall, 51, of Ringwood, New Jersey, was convicted on Thursday on all eight counts of a superseding indictment following an eight-day trial before US District Judge Anne E Thompson in Trenton Federal Court.According to documents filed in the case and evidence at trial, from April 2011 through November 2014, Lall, a private pilot, smuggled hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Guyana to New Jersey and New York on his privately-owned jet aircraft and then laundered the proceeds.Lall, who owed a private jet charter business called Exec Jet Club in Gainesville, Florida, used the proceeds of his cocaine empire to purchase jet planes, houses, and cars. He also paid more than $2 million in cash stuffed in suitcases to a Florida contractor to build an airplane hangar in Guyana.Over a three and a half year period, Lall also made, or had others make, 1287 cash deposits totalling approximately $7.5 million into more than 20 different bank accounts in New Jersey and New York, much of it in $20 bills. In order to avoid detection and circumvent bank reporting laws, all 1287 deposits were for amounts less than $10,000.In November 2014, Lall was flying one of his jets from the United States to Guyana and stopped in Puerto Rico to refuel. An outbound search of the plane discovered US$470,000 in cash stuffed into a suitcase hidden in the tail of the plane, and another US$150,000 in cash hidden under a seat.The conspiracy to distribute cocaine carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life in prison, and a US$10 million fine. The counts for money laundering and conspiracy to launder money each carry a potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The counts of structuring and conspiracy to structure cash carry a potential penalty of 10 years in prison.The Guyanese-born Lall has several business ventures in Guyana. In August 2010, he had applied for land at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) to construct a hangar to facilitate his aircraft operations. He had indicated that he wanted to operate an Executive Jet Service and Air Ambulance Service in Guyana, and had presented a sound business plan to push the venture.The Air Ambulance Service was expected to provide an invaluable lifesaving service, while the Jet Service was to facilitate corporate clients. Two years later, Cabinet had approved a three-year lease to allow for the construction of the hangar, which up to last year, was not completed. However, that lease has since expired and the coalition Government has refused to renew same.Furthermore, following his arrest back in 2015, Government indicated that Government may go after the businessman’s local assets, which also includes a gas station and limousine service.In fact, it has been reported that the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is looking into Lall’s operations here since it is believed that the his assets were obtained through money laundering.last_img read more