Local security officials join global talks on dismantling drug trade routes

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Andre Ally and the Director of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) James Singh are participating in the sixth phase of the SEACOP project which sets out to address the urgent need for intervention in drug trafficking routes from Latin America to Africa.
This critical initiative commenced in 2010 and has now entered its latest phase, inaugurated on June 17, 2024.

CANU’s Director, James Singh during a panel discussion

The event has brought together over 80 participants from both sides of the Atlantic, including high-level officials from more than 20 countries across the Caribbean, Latin America, and West Africa. The assembly is being held in Portugal, alongside European Union (EU) and international partners.
The SEACOP project initially targeted Senegal, Ghana, and Cape Verde, but subsequent phases expanded its scope to include the Caribbean and Latin America to counter the origin and transit of illicit activities effectively.
Over the next three years, the project will focus on supporting the fight against illicit maritime trafficking and associated criminal networks. The project is designed to enhance security, public health, and socio-economic development by mitigating the negative impacts of these illegal activities.
In November 2016, Guyana joined 26 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the implementation of the European Union’s (EU) Seaport Cooperation Programme (SEACOP), aimed at training and equipping inter-agency units to identify search and interdict all forms of maritime trafficking.
The MoU was signed by the Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan and the Head of the European, Jernej Videtic.
The main objective of the initiative was to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies in monitoring maritime trafficking and detecting illicit cargo on board vessels. Access to databases and regional and inter-regional networks of partners is designed to move law enforcement towards an intelligence-led approach that will reduce the trafficking of cocaine.
The first SEACOP specialised event in Guyana was held in March 2017 which saw the participation of nine law enforcement officials from the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU), the Guyana Police Force (GPF), and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
However, this initiative was quashed by the A Partnership for National Unity-Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) government. It was, however, resuscitated following the return of the People’s Progressive Party/Civil returned to office in 2020, August.
Since then, there have been several meetings with law enforcement bodies but this is the first time, the Home Affairs Ministry was invited. During the meeting in Portugal, the Ministry’s permanent secretary is representing the policy aspect while Singh deals with law enforcement.
The ministry’s presence is an indication that the Government of Guyana is committed to combatting drug trafficking. Over the years, millions of dollars have been pumped into law enforcement bodies CANU, to fight drug trafficking.
The budgetary allocations have undoubtedly led to the success of CANU.
In fact, CANU stated that approximately 1363.28 kilograms of narcotics were seized in 2023, and Cannabis sativa (ganja) accounted for 94 percent of the total seizure.
Statistics provided by the agency showed that, in the course of 73 separate operations, 1,287 kilograms of cannabis were recovered from 74 seizures.
From 18 operations conducted, 75.17 kilograms of cocaine were seized. Ecstasy and hashish seized accounted for respectively 0.12kg and 0.10kg, and they came from four operations.
During the period under review, drugs confiscated by CANU carried a local street value of approximately $461.5 million. The narcotics seized for the period consisted of $75.1 million in cocaine and $386.3 million in cannabis.
A disaggregation of the data showed a total of 80 persons were arrested, comprising 70 males and 10 females. Some 54 persons were charged, and 47 convictions were secured. Of these arrested, 38 persons were predominantly within the 30-50 age bracket, while 33 were in the age bracket of 18-30 years.
In addition, for the first three months of 2024, a startling 1.1 tonnes of marijuana and over 75 kilograms of cocaine from various operations across the country were intercepted. A majority of the marijuana is from the Andean region of South America which includes Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.