as CARICOM official looks to reduced role of DEA in Region
Guyanese and their CARICOM (Caribbean Community) counterparts are being urged to step away from a dependency on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the United States of America and rely more on their local resources.
This was the point made by Francis Forbes, the Interim Executive Director for CARICOMs Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), during the closing briefing session of the second Caribbean Basin Security Initiative held in Guyana over the past two days.
Forbes was at the time responding to a media query as to whether the greater use of the DEA in CARICOM was addressed as one measure in the fight against Narco-trafficking in the region.
As the CBSI officials were deliberating strategies Jamaican Authorities discovered cocaine stashed away in a sealed container on board the MV Vega Azurit, a vessel which left Guyana on Sunday last.
This is the third time in recent months that the same boat was busted for drug trafficking and Forbes has predicted that in the near future there would be similar busts.
The security official explained that as drug traffickers try to recoup their losses because of the busts they would seek to make larger shipments and these inherently are also apprehended.
He said that this tightening which leads to the secondary busts as traffickers seek to recover losses is due mainly to information sharing among relevant agencies.
Mr Forbes said that he predicts that even larger busts would be made in the not too distant future.
During yesterday’s briefing, Julissa Reynoso, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America and the Caribbean, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, US State Department, reminded media operatives that there is already a heavy DEA presence in the region and the setting up of an office in Guyana is under active consideration.
“We have a DEA presence throughout the Caribbean it is an essential part of our operation…in Guyana it is under consideration.”
Forbes urged stakeholders to seek to relinquish such a dependency on the DEA and seek to utilize local resources such as the undercover Jamaican ranks operating in Guyana
He said that he looks forward to the day when queries would not seek to ascertain the up-scaling activities of the DEA in CARICOM but rather local enforcement officials and resources working under cover.
“We could be very successful,” Forbes asserted.
He said that Jamaican undercover agents have been operating in Guyana and the same occurs for Guyanese agents who have travelled to Jamaica.
Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, has dismissed claims that there may be a lack of information sharing between agencies in relation to the drug fight.
He dismissed claims, too, that the bust in Jamaica was only made known to the local arm of the drug fight, CANU (Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit) through media reports.
Minister Rohee said that the various administrations are committed to the drug fight despite however innovative the traffickers might get.
The most recent discovery of drugs believed shipped through Guyana was at Port Bustamante by the Jamaican Customs Contraband Enforcement Team and personnel from the Jamaican Constabulary Force on Thursday last.
The drug was tested and amounted to 50 lbs (22.7kg) of pure cocaine. The estimated value is $48M Jamaican dollars (approx. US$560,000 or G$113M)
Despite Rohee’s assurance that they did not learn about the drug bust via the media and that information sharing among agencies is taking place Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) had told Kaieteur News that he has not spoken to any of the authorities to get information.
At the time of the call on Thursday following the drug bust, the commissioner said that he was now gathering facts on the matter.
Like the GRA head, the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit head, James Singh, also had said he too did not have information.
He forwarded all questions to the GRA boss.
However sources within both agencies told Kaieteur News that the vessel had been on the radar for some time now.
This newspaper was told that the vessel which registered in Antigua and Barbuda, left neighbouring Suriname a few days ago before coming to Guyana.
It was the same ship, MV Vega Azurit, in March, on which Jamaican authorities found 122 kilograms of cocaine in a consignment of timber from Guyana.
Several persons were questioned here in connection with the drug bust, but no charges were ever instituted.
In March, 112.5 kilos of cocaine were also seized from the ship during an operation.
On May 31, last, the GRA in keeping with the requirements of the International Maritime Organization for the exportation of products to the United States and other regions, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) announced that its US$1M Container Scanner was fully operational.
The scanner was put into service on May 23, 2011, to meet the growing demand for thorough inspection of containers to ensure compliance with regulations regarding shipping to the United States of America and to halt the secreting of illicit substances with declared cargo.
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