According to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) released yesterday by the US State Department, Guyana remains listed as a transshipment point for cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela destined for North America, Europe, and the Caribbean, and the country has shown marginal commitment to tackle the problem.
“The ability to detect drug shipments has received some recent investments, but there is a lack of focused interdiction operations, and the capacity to monitor and control its expansive borders hinders enforcement of anti-trafficking laws.”
The report pointed out that Guyana’s counternarcotics 2010 activities were challenged by the consistently marginal commitment and capacity at all levels of government, despite some achievements late in the year.
“Movements to modernize a colonial-era legal system based on English common law often stall or lack priority.”
According to the report, due to weak land and maritime border controls and the vast unpatrolled interior, drug traffickers are able to conduct operations without significant interference from law enforcement agencies.
The report stated that Guyana in 2008 did sign into law the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (AMLCFTA), the Interception of Communications Bill, and the Criminal Procedure Bill, which were designed to enhance both the investigative capability of law enforcement authorities and prosecutors’ ability to obtain convictions in drug related cases.
“To the government’s credit, the AMLCFTA was used in 2010 in court proceedings, when Guyanese authorities obtained a conviction of a Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) employee in its first case under the Act.”
The report stressed that although, law enforcement agencies lack adequate government support and face perpetual personnel, training and budgetary challenges that undermine effective or sustained counternarcotics operations, there were some notable actions taken.
Guyana’s 2005 to 2009 National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) has expired, and it achieved few of its original goals, according to the report
“Using the NDSMP as a guide, CANU’s drug enforcement operations at the international airport were reinforced while it also continued to modestly expand capability as an intelligence gathering and analysis organization.”
The report documented that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) assumed responsibilities from CANU for drug interdiction at Port Georgetown in March 2010, but has no dedicated drug enforcement unit and did not receive funding specifically to support its new role in drug enforcement.
“While there are no reliable estimates regarding the amount of cocaine or cannabis that transits through Guyana, US Government law enforcement authorities say that Guyanese narcotics traffickers regularly move shipments of cocaine and marijuana through the country…In 2010, modest efforts to reduce supply by Guyanese law enforcement agencies yielded 105 kilograms of cocaine, according to the Guyana Police and government media reports.”
U.S. law enforcement officials were involved in the seizure of 73 kilograms of the 105 kilograms of cocaine seized in 2010.
This compares to seizures of 137 kilograms of cocaine in 2009 and 48 kilograms in 2008. Authorities seized and eradicated an undetermined amount of marijuana in 2010 though modest estimates of seized packages and plants indicate it was over 25 metric tons. This is a sharp increase over the 183 kilograms reported seized in 2009. The amount of heroin seized in 2010 was approximately 1.2 kilograms; two kilograms of heroin were seized in 2009. The figures, however, represent only a fraction of the drugs trafficked through Guyana, the report stated.
The number of criminal charges filed against individuals for activities related to the trafficking or distribution of illicit drugs for 2010 was 683; there were 648 such charges in 2009 and 473 in 2008.
There are no routine patrols of the numerous land entry points on the 1,800 miles of border with Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname.
The report stated that while operating at the international airport, the Guyana Police Force Narcotics Branch and CANU have engaged in the occasional arrest of low level drug couriers, who carry only small amounts of crack or powder cocaine, and marijuana.
“Much larger quantities seized in North American airports of cocaine coming from Guyana demonstrate lack of detection capability. Drug interdiction efforts have yet to take place at the port of Georgetown since responsibility for counternarcotics at the port was transferred to the GRA.”
The report said that the GRA routinely searches outbound containers for smuggled goods, no searches are conducted specifically for drug interdiction, and no seizures were made at the port in 2010.
On average, 500 containers each month are shipped from the port, with approximately half destined for the United States.
The report pointed out that the lone offshore patrol boat for the coast guard was in dry dock undergoing repairs for the majority of the year, and therefore was unable to carry out patrols or interdictions.
“However, smaller patrol vessels do conduct patrols along the coast and inland waterways.”
The report recognized that Guyana’s ability to deal with drug abusers is impeded by the modest financial resources available to support rehabilitation programs.
On the issue of corruption, the report said that as a matter of policy, the Government of Guyana does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. “News media, however, routinely report on alleged instances of corruption; some reports implicated police personally retaining drugs from seizures while others point to high government officials that are not investigated and thus go unpunished.”
“Guyana is party to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC), but has yet to fully implement its provisions, such as seizure of property obtained through corruption. Guyana is also party to the UN Convention Against Corruption.”
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