The alleged mastermind of a terror plot against John F. Kennedy International Airport gained a brief flash of notoriety in his native Guyana four years ago, describing himself as mentally disturbed after unwittingly carrying cocaine in his baggage on a trip to New York.
Russell Defreitas was featured in Guyanese news broadcasts in May 2003 as he waged a one-man demonstration outside an airline he blamed for allowing six packets of cocaine to be placed in his luggage. He discovered the drugs after passing through customs, turned it over to US authorities, and was not arrested because they believed it was planted, he said.
But the experience left him in mental anguish and fear of retribution from the traffickers who tried to use his baggage to smuggle the drugs, Defreitas said - so much so that he sued the airline, demanding compensation.
"I was disarranged mentally," Defreitas said back then. "I went into hiding for a year and developed mental problems."