Guyana Sees Drug Trafficking Spike in Wake of Colombian Crackdown
By Dialogo March 25, 2013
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Guyana is banking on the U.S.-funded Caribbean Basin
Security Initiative (CBSI) to buffer the impact of a Colombian drug crackdown that
has pushed traffickers to exploit new routes and high-paying markets for cocaine.
James Singh, head of Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), said
high-speed boats and modern technology offered by that program will hopefully stop
traffickers in their tracks.
“Guyana has been benefitting from training through CBSI to strengthen its law
enforcement units to deal with drug trafficking and other threats,” said Singh,
adding that drug traffickers are shifting to lucrative and less risky destinations
in Africa and Asia — and away from closely guarded countries like the United
Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
In November, Malaysian authorities intercepted $7.1 million worth of cocaine
in sealed tins of coconut milk that had been shipped from Guyana. That same month,
CANU agents unearthed 233 kilos of cocaine stashed in a consignment of powdered
detergent destined for the West African nation of Niger. The following month, a
Guyanese man who attempted to ship 327 kilos of cocaine in fish food to China
pleaded guilty to smuggling charges, and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Officials: $21 million worth of cocaine seized last year
Singh said traffickers prefer such emerging destinations because they’d
rather see smaller amounts of drugs seized there than huge quantities seized in
North America or Great Britain.
“It’s about new and emerging markets and who offers the best price. The
multi-ton loads are what you see the U.S. intercepting, but then in other areas
you’re seeing smaller loads because there is more money to be made and you reduce
the risk by sending smaller loads,” Singh explained. “It’s easy to lose 50 kilos as
opposed to, say, 500 or 5,000 kilos, and your returns are a lot greater.”
In 2012, according to government statistics, Guyanese authorities seized $21
million worth of cocaine at airports and seaports. In Guyana, one kilo of cocaine
costs only $5,000 — while that same kilo can bring $30,000 in New York, $120,000 in
China and $200,000 in Australia.
The U.S. State Department’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy
Report paints a bleak picture of the uphill task Guyana faces.
“Traffickers are attracted by the country’s poorly monitored ports, remote
airstrips, intricate river networks, porous land borders and weak security sector
capacity,” states the report. “Smugglers also transit land borders with Brazil,
Venezuela, and Suriname. Cocaine is often concealed in legitimate commodities and
smuggled via commercial maritime vessels, air transport, human couriers, or the
Clandestine airstrips and fake registrations
Commodore Gary Best, chief of staff of the Guyana Defense Force, said
CBSI-funded high-speed boats will help Guyana’s Coast Guard intercept drugs coming
from Colombia through neighboring Venezuela.
He said the GDF has begun balancing its manpower and material resources to
offer greater intelligence-gathering and operational support to CANU and the police.
Guyanese laws prohibit soldiers from engaging in civilian operations on their own.
Last October, authorities discovered an Ecuadorian-registered plane parked on
a clandestine airstrip near Guyana’s border with Brazil. When the Cessna 421 lifted
off, the plane’s Brazilian pilot followed a flight plan that would have taken it to
the nearby city of Boa Vista.
However, when air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane, Guyanese
police and soldiers embarked on a search-and-rescue mission. They eventually found
the freshly painted plane with extra fuel tanks and pumps — as well as a bogus
Local officials say the decision by Brazil and Venezuela to shoot down
illicit drug planes has resulted in fewer cocaine-laden aircraft entering Guyanese
airspace. In September, Brazilian officials began teaching their Guyanese
counterparts how to use Brazil’s Amazon Surveillance Integrated SIVAM/SIPAM system
to monitor the area by satellite for illegal activities and environmental
Enforcing laws already on the books
Guyana’s Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) says it will be too expensive to
invest in a primary radar system that covers a radius of only 70 miles, considering
sparsely populated Guyana itself measures 83,000 square miles — about the size of
Great Britain. Currently, radar data from neighboring countries is being shared.
“We will deal with that when funds are available and as soon as those who
benefit the most from this activity may be able to give us funding,” said Aviation
Minister Robeson Benn.
Added Guyana’s national security minister, Clement Rohee: What we are doing
is building files on people, so that when we decide to move — with the permission of
the court and the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] — I think we’ll be in a much
better position than we are in now.”
And...Â¿What will it be good for? Thanks for those notes. Those who speak are noticeable. People who are suffering the calamity of hunger, poverty and inequality, need to defend themselves, in any way. The "drug dealer" problem is not of the humble people or poor people, since it's the the rich ones who can consume vices; because of the great ambition of attacking narcotics, since they provide dollars, they neglect their people: health, education, food, dwelling, etc.