Archive for March 15th, 2014

US drug bust leads to CI

| 15/03/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A local businessman from a prominent Caymanian family is alleged to be involved in a major drug smuggling and money laundering deal, according to US court filings. CNS understands that Bryce Gilroy Merren has been arrested in Puerto Rico and is currently being held at the Guaynabo jail. According to an affidavit filed last week by a US Homeland Security agent working with the Financial Crimes Unit in San Juan, Merren is accused of being involved in a major conspiracy since last summer to smuggle as much as 3,000 kilos of cocaine from the US to Cayman and to launder the proceeds through businesses here and a Puerto Rican bank. Local police have refused to comment but CNS understands that related local investigations are also underway.

The court documents, which have been posted on the Miami-based watchdog website OffshoreAlert, state that Merren was alleged to have entered into a deal with undercover US agents to purchase and smuggle the first batch of 1,000 kilos of cocaine to Cayman by sea following last September’s Florida boat show, with two further transfers planned later.

The documents accuse Merren, one of the directors of Hurley’s Supermarket and a owner of various other local businesses of intending to use legitimate businesses in Cayman with business merchant machines to help launder the funds for the initial payment to the traffickers via an account he opened in Puerto Rico.

Between August and December the agents and Merren were alleged to have had at least three meetings regarding the drug shipment and the movement of cash. Merren also sent a fuel pump to the agents, who he believed were the traffickers, for the gas needed during the sea smuggling venture. On 3 March the US agent claims that Merren wired $200,000 from a Cayman Bank account to a Puerto Rican account, that had been opened by the undercover agents, as a down payment on the drug deal. Two days later the US agents filed the affidavit and Merren is understood to have been arrested shortly after.

The massive conspiracy is alleged to involve at least one other person based in Cayman who is named in the affidavit. CNS has contacted the RCIPS and has been informed that the police are unable to comment at present on the local investigations in relation to the case.

Meanwhile, according to the local courts, Merren was due to appear before acting magistrate Grace Donalds on Monday regarding traffic related offences, including DUI, driving without insurance, using a vehicle without a certificate of road worthiness and using a vehicle with an expired license.

Check back to CNS for updates on this story.

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