Oct 03, 2016 News
– admits Govt still ill-equipped to fight narco-trade
By Abena Rockcliffe- Campbell
Describing it as “the mother of all crime,”
President David Granger says that his Government is determined to end the scourge of narco-trafficking in Guyana.
The President said that his government is looking at the prevalence of the narcotics trade locally with an aim to strategically bring an end to it.
Granger aired these views as he appeared on the weekly televised show—The Public Interest.
Granger told reporters that many serious crimes have their origin in the “dark oppressive period” when it was clear that drug lords were committing a range of serious offences in Guyana.
“I regard narco-trafficking as the mother of all crimes,” said Granger.
The President said that the huge sums of money generated from the narco trade can be used to order executions, to recruit rogues who could carry out other serious crimes, and to recruit “foot soldiers.”
“They can also get young people to sell the drugs and they can bribe law enforcement officers.”
The President said that it is imperative that Guyanese understand the role that narcotics trafficking has played “particularly between 2000 and 2015,” so it has secured a ‘comfortable place’ in society.
“Early in September we discovered an aircraft in the Rupununi. It is clear it entered Guyana illegally and may be carrying contraband commodities; we do not know exactly what, but as long as drugs keep coming into this country it is going to be very difficult to control crime.”
Granger has been President just about 16 months now. During this time, not one major drug network has been dismantled neither has any key figure been charged.
Granger was asked why this is so, given the fact that he has recognised narco-trafficking as the mother of all crimes.
The President responded, “You are talking about what we have done in 16 months but you cannot ignore the fact that this has been built up over the last 16 years.
“So we have networks, we have evidence of aircraft coming into the country and we have created the National Anti Narcotic Agency. We established the National Security Committee which every week examines the conduct of the police anti-narcotics unit, the Guyana Revenue Authority anti-narcotics unit as well as the Customs Anti-Narcotics unit. We are using these engagements along with our international partners particularly the DEA of the US to interdict narco trafficking. So it is unfair to say that. As you know, there was a huge bust in the United Kingdom, probably the biggest bust and the Guyana government cooperated in that matter, and in the Jamaica bust,” the President stated.
“I think your statement is unfair because we have set up the institution and the national drug strategy master plan has been reissued. We are now conducting an investigation into an aircraft coming into our airspace and we are taking other measures to ensure that the narco-trade is brought to an end.
The President said that he is personally involved in chairing the National Security Committee every week where key work is done.
Granger said that his government is not going to take extreme measures like the Philippines government, “but we are definitely going to bring narco-trafficking to an end.”
The President bemoaned the fact that Guyana is not yet equipped with some of the necessary resources needed to tackle such a crime.
“We do not have the aircraft to patrol our borders, we do not have the ships to patrol our sea space, we do not have the vehicles to even control the land space but we are working on those things with our partners.”
Granger said that aside from drug related murders, there are those that happen as a result of interpersonal violence, domestic cases and land issues.
“Then we have other crimes where there might be small gangs, two or three boys come together and arm themselves with a gun. Again when we talk about gun running, or illegal firearms, we are talking about the impact that narco-trafficking has had on our society,” said Granger.
“Once you have narco-trafficking you are going to have gun running, money laundering and execution murders. There is no one answer, but you can look at causes and that is what the administration is working on, looking at causation.”
He said that government and law enforcement are carrying a deep awareness of the responsibility to ensure Guyana’s borders are more secure.
Looking at crime at the community level, President Granger said that there needs to be strengthening of the police station and the ability of ranks to patrol the areas effectively.
“The police need better all-terrain vehicles to go into the hinterland areas, they need better maritime and aviation capabilities.”
Granger said that it is no easy task as “Guyana is bigger than England and Scotland combined, it is not easy but at that level we have been responding to crime.”
Granger said that there are no mounted police in the Rupununi, “but the Rupununi is bigger than Costa Rica. So we need to put many more horses in the hinterland to help patrol the backdams and the open areas. We are not relying purely on patrol cars and motor cycles, we are responding in various ways and appropriate ways to ensure that the police can get where the crimes occur.”
Granger said that while the government and the police force are trying to do the necessaries, there are some crimes that are simply hard to prevent.
“We have the problem of interpersonal violence, it is very difficult to prevent husband and wife from fighting and sometimes people have problems with their neighbors because their pigs are rooting up their crops, these things occur.”
Granger said that community policing is only part of the response.
He reminded that in October, a team from the United Kingdom will be visiting Guyana to resume the work that they started since 1999 in the form of the Security Sector Reform Action Plan.
“As you know the previous administration had rejected the plan even after the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, (Dr. Roger Luncheon) had already affixed his signature to it.
Granger said that he has been in discussion with the United Kingdom for collaborations.
“So we will be tackling crime at the various levels the international, national and community levels. When it comes down to the households, we are looking to ensure that women and children are particularly protected through a much more effective community policing mechanism. We are very worried when we get cases of incest which is statutory rape because it is not between consenting adults,” said Granger.
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