Pubdate: Tue, 29 Nov 2005
Source: Stabroek News (Guyana)
Copyright: 2005 Stabroek News


Cocaine coming into the country is being air-dropped into remote areas and 
a key hindrance to snaring shipments is the lack of mobility - particularly 
helicopters - a leading drug-fighting expert says.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the expert told Stabroek News that 
the demand for cocaine on the street is minimal as most drug users utilise 

As it is, the local drug users can hardly afford to buy cocaine on the 
streets and most turn to marijuana. He pointed out that one kilogramme of 
cocaine is almost US$4,000 and while drug users would buy cocaine some of 
them can only afford the cheaper marijuana.

But there are those who actually buy small amounts and break it down for it 
to be smoked and sell it much cheaper.

While there has been a problem with the drug Ecstasy in recent times the 
source does not believe it is a major problem as it is very expensive and 
could be more termed a designer drug as only the rich can afford it. It is 
mostly sold at nightclubs and it is believed that the tablets are accessed 
through Suriname, a former colony of Holland, where according to the source 
the bulk of Ecstasy is produced.

It is believed that the cocaine is brought into the country through the 
remote areas. The source pointed out that if the drug agencies really had 
concrete information as to how exactly the drug is imported there would 
have been more success stories in the drug fight.

However, from some intelligence gathered it is believed that the drug is 
air-dropped into interior locations especially those that border other 

Colombia is a major producer of cocaine and it is felt that a lot of the 
illegal drugs are accessed from that country.

But as to what happens to the drug after it enters the country, in terms of 
where it is packaged among other things, it seems as if the drug agencies 
are stumped.

It was stated that while they may hear things there is nothing concrete to 
really indicate to them where the parcelling and packaging of the drug is 
done as it could occur at several different locations.

Trafficking through the mail is done by small-time traffickers, according 
to the source, and if these letters are missed by officers in Guyana they 
more than likely enter the US, where most are destined, undetected as it is 
an involved exercise to check each and every package sent through the mail.

The source acknowledged that the burning question on people's minds is why 
the drug agencies are not catching the 'big fishes', meaning the successful 
drug traffickers.

It was pointed out, as it has been on numerous occasions, that it hard to 
get the big drug traffickers as they do not take part in the actual 
trafficking of the drugs - they sub-contract.

"When you have the mule trafficking in the drugs he does not even know who 
is really behind the shipment of drug. He reports to one man who reports to 
another until the big man is reached," the source said. In some occasions 
even if the person knows who is behind the entire set-up they would never 
say who that person is and would prefer to spend time behind bars instead 
of copping a deal by 'squealing.'"

"You see sometimes when a man or a woman is picked to traffic in drugs they 
are told from the inception that if you get caught and you talk you would 
be killed. So you see it is hard to get those people to talk and without 
them it is very difficult to get to the big fishes," the source said.

But there is hope the source feels that when the five-year National Drug 
Strategy Master Plan is implemented there is going to be more visible 
progress in the fight against drug trafficking.

The plan, which was launched in June this year, is seen as a reflection of 
the recognition by all concerned that the level of drug activity in the 
country requires a comprehensive, integrated and coordinated approach in 
order to make a major impact on controlling its penetration into the fabric 
of the society. This was what Minister of Home Affairs, Gail Teixeira had 
said at the launch of the plan.

The plan, which would take some six hundred million dollars to be 
implemented, can be the turning point in Guyana's fight against drugs.

The country has on several occasions been lambasted by international 
agencies, especially those based in the US for not having effective 
mechanisms to fight drug trafficking. On some occasions there have also 
been charges of corruption in the fight. Earlier this year it was revealed 
that a joint US DEA-CANU operation had to be aborted after the DEA was 

But the source pointed out that one of the major challenges facing agencies 
fighting the drug war is financial support. It was noted that some 
countries such as the Bahamas, which has been able to effectively put up a 
fight, have received major financial support from their international partners.

However, with the support government has given to the local plan, the 
source feels that there is a willingness at the government level to really 
tackle the issue.

Contrary to what some may believe, the source said he feels the government 
is really serious about the fight from discussions that were held around 
implementing the plan. He however, cautioned that the real test will come 
in how soon the plan is implemented and how well the drug agencies are 
supported in the implementation.

The fact that only one of the country's national security agencies has a 
helicopter highlights one of the hurdles faced by the agencies fighting 
drugs. While the Guyana Defence Force's helicopter is available to the drug 
agencies should the need arise, the source feel that helicopters at the 
agencies' disposal round the clock is crucial. This will enable drug 
officers to better police Guyana's remote areas where it is felt that the 
bulk of the drugs is brought into the country.

The plan talks about the more active involvement of the Coast Guard in the 
fight and this the source said is an important area because Guyana's waters 
really need to be patrolled on a more regular basis in order to fight drug 

According to information, collaboration between the Guyana Police Force and 
the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the two premier drug fighting 
agencies, has been greatly enhanced in recent years and when the plan is 
implemented this would be visible.

Stabroek News understands that while CANU has officers who do actual 
searches and arrests there is need for this number to be increased as some 
of the more remote areas are left unmanned.
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