Five days after a container of rice from Guyana was found with a massive stash of cocaine in Germany, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) has said it does not check for drugs.
On Friday, the GRDB said it is surprised that fingers are pointing in its direction for blame and responsibility of the drugs leaving Guyana undetected. GRDB said its function is to grade the quality of rice and to ensure that a standard quality of rice is exported.
“GRDB is not a police enforcement agency and does not participate in crime investigation, prevention or enforcement.”
According to GRDB, the shipment of 300 metric tons of rice was meant for a company in Poland, FHU Konpack.
The statement by GRDB noted that random inspection of samples of rice is done at the mill and at the point of loading onto the container at the wharf, in order to ascertain the quality of the rice.
Records at GRDB shows the rice came from a rice mill in Berbice. The statement does not say where in Berbice or what rice mill.
GRDB said it took hours to load the rice onto the containers by a number of labourers. As per normal, fumigation was done after the container was fully loaded, in the presence of a National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) Officer.
GRDB said, the containers were then locked by the shippers’ representative and all seals were placed on the containers by the shipper’s representative.
The serial numbers where then recorded by the GRDB officer. GRDB did not state what shipping company was used but noted that the container left Guyana on May 26, 2020 on the MV Asistic Wind.
Four days before departing, the containers were containers were scanned by Customs authorities on 21st – 22nd May, 2020 before being loaded onto the ship.
The vessel subsequently arrived at Caucedo, Dominican Republic on June 07, 2020 and was discharged on the same day. The containers were then loaded on a vessel – CMA CGM Jean Gabriel – on June 13th, 2020 and subsequently departed Dominican Republic on the same day and arrived in Hamburg, Germany on June 27th, 2020 and were discharged the following day.
“The officer on duty on the day the rice was packed confirmed that all of GRDB’s Standard operating procedures were followed. The containers were inspected and checks were made in keeping with the Operating Procedures,” GRDB stated.
After the shipment arrived in Germany, a reported tip-off about drug smuggling led police authorities to seize over €300 million worth of cocaine in the cargo ship container.
This is one of the largest quantities ever seized in the northern German port city. The massive stash was hidden between sacks of rice in the containers.
The container was to be loaded onto a feeder ship together with 11 other transport containers and then ultimately carry the cargo to Poland. For this purpose, the container was temporarily stored at the Hamburg terminal.
Officers discovered 47 large packages hidden between the rice sacks and within those packages, a total of 1,277 small parcels with cocaine.
The parcels all had various symbols on them, including a cat’s face, the Gallic rooster, and the red and green traffic light symbols shown on pedestrian signals in Germany.