CANU to tighten airport security, heighten searches

As a result of the large number of persons in 2018 who managed to sneak past local airport security with illegal drugs and were only busted upon arrival at the John F Kennedy (JFK) Airport in the United States and other airports, the Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) has said that plans are in the pipeline to boost detection and searches at local airports.

CANU Head Michael Atherly

The head of the narcotics unit, Michael Atherly told this newspaper during an interview on Monday that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the Eugene F Correia International Airport needed new technology to be able to better detect illicit drugs.
“We shouldn’t allow any (illegal drugs) to pass, but that’s not possible. Some will slip through because our methods are in need of updating and improving to better technology and so on,” Atherly noted.
He added that he was hopeful for budgetary allocations this year to tackle this ongoing issue.
The Director acknowledged that there have been at least three such breaches in the past four months, which, according to him, was not alarming.
He, however, revealed that plans were in place to have improved searches conducted at local airports. “We do plan to improve our search methods and so on,” the official explained while noting that he does not wish to disclose the plans in detail. The Director would only say that all avenues for improvement are being explored to improve screening and searching for illegal drugs.
In October last year, <<<Guyana Times>>> reported that two Guyanese were facing drug trafficking charges after they were separately busted at the JFK Airport in New York, US with cocaine.
Guyanese business owner Luke Kendall was nabbed with cocaine pellets in his stomach upon his arrival on September 20, 2018, in the United States.
According to reports, Kendall arrived on a flight from Georgetown, Guyana, and was subjected to a routine search by immigration agents at the airport.
However, when the man was asked by the agents to provide names and contact numbers for the persons he was visiting, those persons indicated that they had no idea Kendall was visiting. By this time, the ranks ordered the man to undergo an X-ray examination after which it was revealed that he had ingested cocaine pellets.
Further examinations showed that the drug mule had more than 200 pellets containing the illegal drug, which he swallowed. He later admitted to swallowing more than three pounds of the substance.
Kendall was charged and arraigned with the offence on September 24, 2018, before Magistrate Steven Tiscione.
Meanwhile, a young mother of Ituni, Upper Demerara River, faced similar drug trafficking charges after she was apprehended at JFK with some 200 cocaine pellets in her stomach.
The woman, Odessa Edmondson, who was travelling with her baby, was intercepted by US Customs and Border agents.
Agents observed Edmondson perspiring and acting in a suspicious manner which led them to question her further. It was then that the young woman reportedly admitted to ingesting the pellets, revealing that she was going to be paid some US$6000 to smuggle the drugs into the United States.
Kurt and Maria Bruney, who are also Guyanese, were also nabbed in similar circumstances when they were both busted by US Customs and Border officers at the JFK Airport. The couple allegedly attempted to smuggle hundreds of cocaine pellets into the US, after arriving in New York on a flight from Guyana on September 23.
The East Coast Demerara couple both cumulatively had well over 200 cocaine pellets in their systems, with the contents of an excreted pellet testing positive for cocaine. Reports indicate that a sum of US$6000 was promised for his efforts, which was a similar amount to that of the suspected Linden mule.