In light of the recent killing of three Guyanese nationals at a mining camp in neighbour Venezuela, and the series of robbery attacks on local mining camps, Guyana’s Joint Services have beefed up security, not only along the country’s borders, but at strategic interior locations as well.
On Saturday, the Guyana Defence Force released on its website pictures showing soldiers patrolling communities near the country’s border with Venezuela in Region One. The GDF said on its Facebook page on Saturday that operations have been beefed up over the past week.
“Joint Services patrols were launched last Monday to deter criminal elements operating near the Guyana-Venezuela borders,” the army said.
Meanwhile, speaking with Guyana Times on Saturday, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan assured that every possible effort is being undertaken to ensure strengthening of those border areas. In fact, he pointed out, the ‘F’ Division Commander is ensuring that those efforts are realised.
“These efforts include communicating with the people overseas, and of course moving some of the policemen from the stations to that area, where we understand that there is increased activity from these robbers that are there. We have to ask the mining community there also that when they spot these people, to give the information to the police. That is as much as we can do, because it is rough terrain,” he stated.
Ramjattan added that catching these criminals is going to be difficult, and will pose a challenge. However, he said, the Guyana Police Force is trying its best.
“They know those areas and they’re trying their best to confront these criminals (who are) are making life difficult for the miners. We’ve been getting these reports for some time now — of these groups of masked and high-powered armed men robbing the miners, and then they move off to other places; so it’s a challenge all the time to catch them, because it’s a jungle area and not open that can probably make it easier for you to catch them. It’s going to be difficult,” the Public Security Minister stressed.
The minister was also asked about Monday’s incident in Venezuela, where 55-year-old Vernon Eudoxie; 23-year-old Cologne Solomon, both of Fitzburg, Port Kaituma; and Samuel Moses, 19 years, of Four Miles Oronoque, Port Kaituma were shot and killed in their sleep after a group of armed men stormed the mining camp at Imataca, Venezuela, where they were working. He said that not much can be done, since the incident occurred within Venezuelan territory.
Nevertheless, he noted that the Police are working on gathering as much information as possible from the survivors and others in the area, to build profiles on the perpetrators so that those can be sent to the authorities across the border for the relevant actions to be taken.
Another Guyanese, 22-year-old Joel Paton of Supenaam Creek Head Mission, Essequibo River was also injured during the shooting. He and seven other miners had taken cover during the shooting. The young man is currently in a serious but stable condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), nursing several suspected gunshot wounds about his body.
“The leadership of the Police Force is working out strategies that can help them better catch these criminals, and we’re gonna ask for support from other joint services in those areas, like the army. There are, in certain areas, other law enforcements for GRA and other agencies; Also and we will definitely make a united effort. The members of the mining community will also have to come on-board; there is going to be a collective effort,” the Minister posited.
Furthermore, the Public Security Minister opted not to get into actions taken by the military to heighten its presence at the borders. “I prefer not to speak on the military issue, but I’m more informed about it by my policemen and the Commander in ‘F’ Division, as what they are doing,” he asserted.
Of recent, there have been several cases in which local mining camps have been attacked and robbed, reportedly by nationals crossing over from both Venezuela and Brazil.
In fact, only Monday last, a group of six heavily armed men terrorised and robbed a mining camp at Kartuni, Cuyuni River in Region Seven, of an undisclosed quantity of raw gold along with a shotgun and a 9mm pistol.
There were also reports of another camp owned by a popular Bartica businessman being raided and robbed on Tuesday morning. Again, the bandits made off with a quantity of raw gold.
The bandits were reportedly speaking fluent Portuguese and Spanish, which suggested that they are not Guyanese.
However, Minister Ramjattan told this newspaper that local law enforcement officials have not received any information or evidence to prove that these were foreign nationals carrying out the attacks. In fact, he noted that they could very well be Guyanese who are bilingual, having lived in the neighbouring countries or close to the borders.