Pubdate: Fri, 28 Dec 2007
Source: Stabroek News (Guyana)
Copyright: 2007 Stabroek News
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Compromise Reached With Customs

Surveillance cameras will soon monitor internal operations at the 
Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) as it moves to stop drug 
trafficking through postal packages.

At a press conference yesterday morning to announce this, GPOC 
Chairman Bishop Juan Edghill lamented the fact that the post office 
had faced an uphill battle with Customs officials over this.

Edghill said the situation was only resolved when the head of the 
Customs and Trade Administration Chabilal Ramsarup became involved 
and a compromise was reached.

Edghill said Customs officers had refused to have the cameras 
installed, in the area where they operate, saying that this would 
violate their privacy. There are some five Customs officers stationed 
at the post office. However, in the compromise reached, the Customs 
officers will check packages in another room, where cameras will be 
installed, maintaining their privacy in the room where packages were 
formerly checked.

Explaining why the GPOC had undertaken to have security cameras 
installed, Edghill said there were instances where packages and 
parcels were stamped as examined by Customs and when scanned at the 
airport, cocaine was found in them. He noted that these packages were 
stored at the post office under customs seal and transported to the 
airport in the presence of a customs officer and a GPOC staffer, and 
kept under supervision, with each side, customs and GPOC having keys. 
How drugs got past these measures, the Chairman said was "something 
that is quite baffling".

Asked whether the cameras would help decrease the number of drug 
finds in the mail, he said they would "minimize" the occurrence of 
it. It was also noted that along with the surveillance cameras 
disciplinary measures would be taken against GPOC staffers, if warranted.

The Chairman remarked that because of extra checks at international 
ports, mail could face delays and this would affect business. 
Already, he said, Caribbean Airlines (CA) had stopped taking GPOC 
mail and the corporation was forced to have a CA security official 
provide training to its staffers, as well as find alternative means 
to transport mail.

Asked about the number of cameras that would be installed, the 
chairman said he could not divulge this for security reasons, but 
emphasized that they would be sufficient for all the sensitive areas. 
Cameras are expected to be set up in the mail sorting areas as well 
as the Customs examination area.

The exact value of the cameras was not given, but they were said to 
be worth several million dollars, provided exclusively from GPOC earnings.

Meanwhile, Edghill also called for a permanent Customs Anti-Narcotics 
Unit (CANU) officer to be based at the GPOC immediately.

"I am frustrated with the attitude of some Customs officers," he 
lamented, adding that he had heard remarks like the job of customs 
"is not to look after narcotics but to look after revenue".

Edghill remarked that he was "very serious" about the fight against 
illegal drugs. 
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