Guyana still Cocaine transit point, GDF has limited capacity- US report

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Despite efforts made, Guyana remains a transit country for cocaine destined for the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, and West Africa.

According to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report recently released by the US Department of State, the influence of narcotics trafficking is evident in the country’s criminal justice systems and other sectors.

It has noted that Cocaine is often concealed in legitimate commodities and smuggled via commercial maritime vessels, air transport, human couriers, “go-fast” boats or various postal methods.

Currently, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) is investigating a total of 84.986 kilograms of cocaine equalling a landed US street value of over 550Million Guyana Dollars, which was discovered on the evening of Friday 12th May 2017. The substance was found concealed in a truck laden with several pallets of 1×6 dressed lumber boards at 227 Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo, prepared for export to the USA. “Several boards were drilled randomly and revealed a whitish substance suspected to be cocaine,” CANU said.

According to the US State Department, traffickers are attracted to the country’s poorly monitored ports, remote airstrips, intricate river networks, porous land borders, and weak security sector capacity.

Guyana has a drug enforcement presence at its international airports, post offices, and, to a lesser extent, at port and land border entry points. The five major agencies involved in anti-drug efforts are the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the Serious Organized Crimes Unit (SOCU), and the Guyana Defense Force (GDF).

It was noted that while the GDF supports law enforcement agencies with boats, aircraft, and personnel, it “has limited capacity and lacks law enforcement authority.”

The report disclosed that through the first six months of 2016, the GPF reported seizing 16 kg of cocaine, a significant decrease from the 134.2 kg of cocaine that was seized over the same period in 2015. Additionally, CANU reported seizing 60 kg of cocaine over this period (down from 568.3 kg in 2015), and the GRA did not report any seizures.

It stated that “the Government of Guyana has legislation in place that could enable a more-effective response to the threat of drug trafficking.”

In relation to ‘Public Information, Prevention, and Treatment’, it notes that Guyana lacks a comprehensive demand reduction strategy that adequately addresses drug rehabilitation.

Marijuana is the most widely used drug in Guyana, followed by cocaine.

While Non-governmental organisations offer rehabilitation services and the United States provides vulnerable youth with support to reduce involvement in crime, the Guyana National Council for Drug Education, Rehabilitation, and Treatment, within the Ministry of Public Health, is the “single” government body responsible for addressing demand reduction.

The United States says it looks forward to tangible progress on investigations, prosecutions, extraditions, security sector capacity enhancement, the engagement of at-risk communities, and enforcement of laws against money laundering and financial crimes.

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