– Drug trafficking poses biggest challenge to local law enforcement
The murder rate in Guyana is three-times higher than the murder rate in the United States and criminal activity in the capital city of Georgetown continues to increase, particularly violent crimes against people and property.
These were the findings of the Guyana 2011 Crime and Safety report which was complied as United States Department.
The report noted that foreigners, in general, are viewed as targets of opportunity. Serious crime, including murder and armed robbery, continues to be a major problem.
According to 2010 crime statistics the report noted that there were approximately 710 incidents reported to the Regional Security Office (RSO), of which there were 140 murders, 108 shooting incidents, and 143 armed robberies.
The report recommended that U.S. citizens maintain a high level of vigilance, consider security issues when planning activities throughout Guyana, and avoid traveling at night, when possible.
Armed robberies continue to occur intermittently, especially in major businesses and shopping districts. Criminals may act brazenly, and police officers themselves have been the victims of assaults and shootings.
“Vehicle thefts are common any time of the day or night. Vehicle occupants should keep their doors locked, never leave items in plain sight, and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Robbery and vehicle theft occur with some frequency in Georgetown and New Amsterdam (Guyana’s second largest city).
“After dark, it is highly advisable not to walk or bike and only drive from venue to venue. Residential burglaries are less common when homes have guards who pose a deterrent to would-be thieves,” the Guyana 2011 Crime and Safety report stated.
According to the report, criminals are frequently armed and appear to be able to obtain weapons with ease, despite the arduous licensing requirements for the average person. Handguns, knives, and machetes or “cutlasses” are the weapons of choice.
Drug trafficking organizations are prevalent and pose the biggest challenge to local law enforcement in Georgetown. Airport security and customs officials are detaining and arresting individuals on a weekly basis as these try to smuggle drugs out of Guyana into the United States.
Apprehensions of drug “mules,” often U.S. citizens perceived to be able to travel easily with their U.S. passport, have also increased this past year.
The report further underscored that armed robberies of business/patron establishments are becoming increasingly common in Georgetown. Criminals are usually organized, travel in groups of two or more and conduct surveillance on their victims.
The limited police presence in most areas is largely ineffective in preventing crime.
“Local police in Guyana have resource and manpower limitations that inhibit their ability to deter or respond to criminal activity. Police patrols are rare or nonexistent. There is an emergency telephone number “911” for police, fire, or rescue.
The fire department generally provides a timely response, while a police response, especially during the night is less dependable. The police response to emergency calls is often too slow (15 minutes or longer). When the police do respond, they have a limited amount of authority to act on their part, and at times attempt to solicit bribes, as officers are not compensated well,” the report stated.
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