“An absolute plus for Guyana” was how Chancellor Justice Carl Singh described the US launch of a Drug
Enforcement Agency in Guyana.
Yesterday, with a focus on intelligence and evidence gathering, the DEA office was launched at the US Embassy in Georgetown. It will be based there.
“We will need to train and equip Magistrates for the kinds of cases that are going to be brought as a result of the efforts and initiatives of the DEA and the local police,” said Justice Carl Singh.
Justice Carl Singh noted that successful prosecution in courts depends on tangible, credible, cogent, compelling evidence and it is this effort that is going to lead to the presentation of the kind of evidence which will ultimately secure convictions where people are charged for justified reasons.
US Ambassador Perry Holloway reminded that the DEA agents will not be going around “kicking down doors and dragging people out on the streets”. Rather they will play a major role in working along with the local agencies in tackling the drug trade and providing information to the local agencies that will benefit the efforts to counter the narco-trade.
Considered as one of the world’s top or the most premier institutions to deal with drug enforcement internationally, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan expressed elation that operations have commenced in Guyana.
To have the DEA in Guyana will bolster and enhance the efforts of the Guyana Police Force, CANU and the GRA drug enforcement unit, he said.
The Minister described the official launch as timely, historical and relevant even though the agency does not have arresting powers locally.
US Ambassador Perry Holloway said the DEA should be seen in the light of addressing matters dealing with drugs and the United States.
Regional Director for the DEA, Matthew Donahue said that partnership is important in the drug fight as Guyana became the eighth Caribbean and Latin American country to have the permanent presence of a DEA office.
The Agency Director is already promising success as his agency gets ready to offer more assistance to the Guyanese authorities in tackling the drug trade.
“I promise you this, we will be successful”, he declared.
The DEA official further stressed that the agency cannot do it alone and that is the reason it believes it is important to forge relationships. “We have nothing to hide. We put it on the table,” he said.
The agency will be looking to root out the problem and go after the big drug dealers. He said persons should not be fooled that when they see one bust, it would be the only one of that type. Others exist.
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, said that he believes the simple permanent presence of the DEA in Guyana, will be able to play a role in deterring persons from getting involved in the narco-trade.
“The mere presence of this unit out of America will have a deterring effect; the fact is that such an important institution and such an important drug interdiction unit is here”.
He added that while the DEA agents would not have police powers, the presence of the agents in Guyana and their ability to disrupt networks and get to them is welcomed.
Further, the Minister expressed elation that the DEA would be assisting Guyana in other areas, including efforts to tackle gold smuggling, money laundering and other areas inclusive of human trafficking.
In thanking the US Government for its assistance Minister Ramjattan said the US can be assured that the Government of Guyana is its friend.
On the other hand, Minister Ramjattan believes that the ancillary information that will come about as a result of their investigations, will be of tremendous help in Guyana.
Ramjattan said the spill off is a bonus as regards to drugs related activities, drugs interdictions and enforcement.
With the Drug Enforcement Agency now here, Guyana will see a number of other benefits such as training for the local institutions. Ramjattan also noted that there is a programme through which several local officers have received CSI training in addition to equipment at the police academy.
Ambassador Holloway said the office itself is starting out with one individual. It will grow to two in the coming months with a possibility of eventually having three.
He also noted that the average cost of having a US individual overseas anywhere in the world is pegged at US$500,000. Ambassador Holloway noted that there will also be significant training and technical assistance provided under a US programme which is in addition to the annual provision of between US$2-$3M assistance in this area of crime and narcotics.
“ What the DEA is bringing is not so much more money, it is bringing the expertise in the people, the networks and the information gathering tools to be able to leverage information and their network throughout the world,” Holloway explained.
“It has largely to do with the fact that there is so much crime and violence in our society today that when the analysis is done and as it continues it shows that it is as a result largely of drugs. It is important for us knowing that and being largely these days science based in our reaction to how we are going to come up with the necessary resources to counter crime and violence,” Ramjattan said.
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