“Government’s counter-narcotics efforts remain hampered by inadequate resources for, and poor coordination among, law-enforcement agencies; an overburdened and inefficient judiciary; and the lack
of a coherent and prioritised national security strategy.”
The 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) on Guyana has once again labelled Guyana as a transit point for cocaine destined for North America, Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean.
The report also pointed out that the government’s counter-narcotics efforts remain hampered by inadequate resources for, and poor coordination among, law-enforcement agencies; an overburdened and inefficient judiciary; and the lack of a coherent and prioritised national security strategy.
The report, which is prepared every year by the United States State Department and analyses the drug-fighting effort for the previous year, has also pointed out that in the penultimate year of its National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) for 2005 to 2009, the Government of Guyana (GOG) has achieved few of the plan’s original goals.
The report suggested that there was minimal cooperation among law-enforcement bodies, and weak border controls and limited resources for law enforcement have allowed drug traffickers to move shipments via river, air, and land without meaningful resistance.
“Guyana offers ample cover for drug traffickers and smugglers with its vast expanse of unpopulated forest and savannahs.”
The report did point out the major personnel transition within the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), which the US says offers some promise of improved coordination and interdiction efforts.
The report took cognisance of the overhaul of CANU, where nine of its officers including the acting head were fired in May last year after failing polygraph examinations.
“In October a new Director of CANU was hired, and the replacement of recently dismissed officers was ongoing at year’s end. CANU’s new Director has promised regularisation of its operations, improved efficiency, and enhanced collaboration among law-enforcement bodies.”
It was also pointed out that the government has made little progress on some of the plan’s key provisions of the continued implementation of the multi-year Security Sector Reform plan funded by the United Kingdom that commenced in 2007.
The country was also favourably looked at as it relates to the recent passage of laws that allow for plea bargaining, wiretapping, and the collection of cell phone ownership data in order to modernise Guyana’s legal system and augment the tools available to law-enforcement authorities.
It was noted also that last year Guyanese law-enforcement agencies seized 48 kilogrammes of cocaine, compared to 167 kg in 2007. The decrease was largely due to the lack of any seizures of more than a few kilogrammes, as well as to the effects of the recent personnel shifts within CANU, the report added.
It did note that the eradication of domestically grown marijuana (which was referred to as being of a high grade) increased sharply, with 34,000 kg identified and destroyed, compared to 15,280 kg in 2007.
The report indicated that in 2008 there has not been the identification of or confrontation with major drug traffickers and their organisations.
“Efforts by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) Narcotics Branch and CANU have been limited to arresting low-level drug couriers at Guyana’s international airport, who carry only small amounts of marijuana, crack cocaine or powder cocaine… Law enforcement agencies are hamstrung by insufficient personnel budgets, and there are no routine patrols of the numerous land-entry points on the 1,800 miles of border with Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname.”
It was pointed out that, while there was no reliable estimate regarding the amount of cocaine or cannabis that transits Guyana, US law enforcement authorities say that Guyanese narcotics traffickers regularly move shipments of cocaine through the country.
According to the report, Guyana’s uncontrolled borders and coastline allow unfettered drug transit, with light aircraft landing at numerous isolated airstrips or make airdrops where operatives on the ground retrieve the drugs.
“Smugglers use small boats and freighters to enter Guyana’s many remote but navigable rivers… Smugglers also take direct routes, such as driving or boating across the borders with Brazil, Suriname, and Venezuela…The Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard does not have any seaworthy vessels, as its lone patrol boat is currently in dry dock awaiting repairs… Once inside the country, narcotics are transported to Georgetown by road, water, or air, and then sent on to the Caribbean, North America, or Europe via commercial air carriers or cargo ships.”
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