Putting a dent on drug smuggling

It is clear that the authorities in Guyana are facing some real challenges in relation to tackling the issue of drug trafficking and the related problems that come with such activity. While there have been some successes at preventing traffickers from being successful in carrying out these illegal acts, there is still a far way to go if Guyana is to boast about putting a real dent on drug trafficking.
International and regional institutions have been trying for quite some time now to come up with a strategy that would seek to reverse this growing threat but traffickers are becoming smarter and are using other methods to “beat the system”, thereby creating more difficulties for law enforcement agencies.
Counter-drug efforts have pushed traffickers to use new routes through the Caribbean, as they seek to ship illegal drugs from South America into the United States and Europe and other destinations. They are also using containers with the aim being to conceal the illegal items. It is no secret that in the past, large amounts of drugs have transited in and out of Guyana on cargo and other ships. Cocaine is often concealed in legitimate commodities and smuggled via commercial maritime vessels, air transport, human couriers, “go-fast” boats or various postal methods.
In spite of the interception of cocaine and other illegal items by local law enforcement officials, the United States and other international agencies believe that large volumes still pass through Guyana’s various borders undetected, and this could be so due to a number of reasons.
On a regular basis, we hear stories of persons carrying illegal drugs, slipping through our ports here undetected; it is only when they arrive at their destination that they are discovered with the illegal substance. While these “pushers” find it easy to bribe their way through the system here, it is very difficult to do so in foreign jurisdictions, except in rare cases where there is a huge network of connections to allow the illegal drugs to pass smoothly.
Just recently, a 51-year-old Guyanese man was busted by US Drug Enforcement Agents at the JFK Airport in New York carrying two cocaine-laden suitcases. According to media reports, the suspect was nabbed with the drugs just after he had arrived on a Caribbean Airlines flight from Guyana. Also, earlier in October, two other Guyanese were arrested at JFK with cocaine only upon their arrival in the US. One of the men was busted with over 25 pellets of cocaine in his stomach.
Now, in relation to the first case, the first question that comes to mind is how was the passenger able to get through Guyanese law enforcement, more so, CANU ranks at the airport, with the cocaine concealed in the walls of the two suitcases without detecting that the suitcases contained illegal drugs.
It must be noted that there are reliable forms of security measures in place at the airport to prevent such illegal activity from being successful. For example, in addition to physical random searches by CANU and other ranks, there is a suitcase scanner at the airport that scans passengers’ luggage, etc, before they are loaded onto the plane. Given these ‘fool-proof’ security mechanisms in place, how then, could someone have managed to slip illegal drugs through the airport without being detected? One is therefore left to assume that this could only have been possible with a high level of collusion between key personnel at the airport.
The examples mentioned before are just a few. There were numerous other cases of illegal drugs passing through the various ports here and very often, the authorities are placed in a very embarrassing situation to explain and defend such occurrences.
A key report on the global fight against drug trafficking and money laundering, which was released by the United States Department of State, had noted that Guyana has a long road ahead in combating the drug scourge. The report, titled “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)”, had said that Guyana is a transit country for cocaine destined for the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and West Africa. Traffickers are no doubt attracted by this country’s poorly monitored ports, remote airstrips, intricate river networks, porous land borders, and weak security sector capacity.
Certainly, drug trafficking and related criminal activities represent one of the most potent threats to democracy and stability in Guyana. It undermines the rule of law and democratic governance, we urge that there continue to be strenuous efforts made by all stakeholders involved in putting a dent on drug smuggling and related crimes.