Feb 10, 2015 Editorial
This editorial was first published on December 4, last. Today we reprint it.
People would have to be very naïve if they are to believe that it was mere serendipity which caused the US authorities to unearth over half-million dollars encased in black plastic garbage bags on a private aircraft bound for Georgetown. First of all the Americans unlike their Guyanese counterparts take their security and the security of their ports of entry and exit very seriously. The fact that the people did not take things at face value and even went so far as to use sniffer dogs, point to some level of previous knowledge or suspicion of wrongdoing.
A reading of the comments emanating from the various bloggers tells the story of a jaded populace that is willing to believe the worst of people who are suspected to be associated in some form or another with the ruling elite. From the little information available Lall (not Glen) and party arrived in Puerto Rico to refuel and in the midst of a ‘routine’ check were made aware of certain deficiencies which he undertook to remedy. Now for some conjecture.
Those knowledgeable of the way the Americans operate would argue that the whole maintenance situation was set up to give the occupants on the plane an opportunity to reveal more concrete evidence including the movements of persons to and from the aircraft, and what if anything any visitor had in his or her possession. There is no doubt that the plane and its passengers were under surveillance the entire time that the plane was grounded which makes the issue of escape from the long arms of the law moot.
It is by no means impossible that a large sum of money could have been earned through legitimate means, but for someone to forget that over half-million United States dollars was in one’s possession would surely boggle the mind of the least imaginative person. Furthermore, the manner in which the money was secured and concealed, taken with the two false declarations of currency renders anything coming but the truth from Lall as unbelievable.
It has been a long held suspicion that pilots are not without sin so much so that private pilots have reported unsettling encounters with the Office of Air and Marine of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to the Los Angeles Times, it has investigated 1,375 flights during the three years and five months prior to February 2014, of which authorities intercepted 212 at airports and made 39 drug-related arrests.
However, a review of the documentary Cocaine Cowboys might throw a larger spotlight on the many ways and rewards for the pilots who ferry contraband and other illicit items within and across borders. Another game that information suggests that local pilots play is to leave these shores for rendezvous with their co-conspirators in the Caribbean islands where they pick up laundered cash and luxury items to bring back to Guyana and evading the type of rigorous scrutiny using loopholes in the system. In that way there is no need to attract the direct attention of US authorities.
Things have probably changed but it was once a common sight to see airline pilots and flight attendants arriving at CJIA with their pull-along bags only to go straight through to their aircraft without the least semblance of a security scan. There was absolutely no guarantee that those bags did not contain bars of gold or kilos of cocaine or large amounts of cash.
Taking the foregoing into consideration it is more than passing strange that access to a private hangar at the country’s major airport is virtually hidden away from the gaze of the curious. Regardless of the unfinished state of the infrastructure there was nothing inhibiting its use and not withstanding claims to the contrary no level of comfort is provided as to who and where would have been the final destination of all that money.
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