CoI dismisses corruption claims levelled at CANU

…discovers administrative deficiencies

The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) has been cleared of the damning allegation of a massive drug network involving its ranks.

CANU has been cleared of the damning allegation of a massive drug network involving its ranks
CANU has been cleared of the damning allegation of a massive drug network involving its ranks

President David Granger disclosed on Thursday that the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the corruption claims made by self-confessed drug lord Barry Dataram found the allegations were without merit. The CoI report is yet to be released publicly but based on the assertions of the President “I would say generally that Barry Dataram’s allegations? of corruption are without foundation,” he stated during the recording of “The Public Interest” which will be aired on Friday (today).

In February, Dataram, during an interview with HGPTV Nightly News, alleged that senior CANU officials were involved in illegal drug trafficking activities and had even alleged that one of the agents bagged some $10 million in exchange for allowing cocaine to leave the country. Amid the widespread controversy, President Granger ordered that an inquest be established into the allegations a week after the revelations.

The probe went on for some two months and following its completion, the report was handed over to State Minister Joseph Harmon on behalf of the Head of State on Friday last. Brigadier Bruce Lovell was appointed by the Head of State to probe the allegations made against ranks of the country’s premier drug enforcement unit. During the handing over of the report, Brigadier Lovell noted that the allegations made by Dataram are serious especially since State officials were named. As such, it was necessary that Government carry out an investigation.

He expressed confidence that Government will consider his conclusion and recommendations, and take appropriate actions.

Though CANU has been cleared of the corruption allegations made by Dataram, President Granger disclosed that the CoI discovered several administrative deficiencies which required urgent attention. “The CoI pointed to the need for administrative changes to be made in the architecture in Guyana’s anti-narcotics programme,” he stated. Some of these deficiencies include the lack of adequate funding and unavailability of equipment to carry out proper investigations.

Furthermore, Granger noted that the recommendations include the ? need for greater coordination among the Customs and Trade Administration of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and CANU to address deficiencies and weaknesses. He pointed out that in this regard, the newly established umbrella body National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA), becomes useful to coordinate the activities between the abovementioned units.

Meanwhile, the Head of State said government will soon be releasing the National Drug Strategy Master Plan.