Widely claimed to have been Trinidad’s most influential and successful drug lord, Dole Chadee’s story reads something like an illicit Colombian rags-to-riches tale. Born Nankissoon Boodram to a poor Indo-Trinidadian family in Curepe, Chadee went from mason to cocaine empire-builder, and was a charitable community godfather who skillfully avoided arrest until his eventual downfall, which was shrouded in unanswered questions and political intrigue.

At the peak of his reign, Chadee owned a large estate guarded by gun-wielding henchmen at the village of Piparo; he had his own ornate no-expense-spared Hindu temple, owned racehorses, a fleet of flashy cars (despite not having a driving licence), as well as shopping centres and petrol stations as far afield as Princes Town and San Fernando. Chadee employed a large contingent of the Piparo community and was intent on looking after the village’s welfare, offering money for food and electricity at difficult times, as well as funds for sporting events and other community activities. His group remained seemingly untouchable (he’s even said to have bought a car from former prime minister, Patrick Manning), despite showing a ruthless side which saw witnesses to alleged crimes poisoned, killed or their jaws shot off, and families intimidated or murdered.

Chadee was never tried as a narco-trafficker, however. Despite US authorities’ suspicions that he, along with partner “Shortman” Beharry, were heading the eastern Caribbean’s leading cocaine cartel, in league with Cali of Colombia, it was for a dual murder charge that he and eight accomplices were eventually arrested in 1994.

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