State to confiscate drug smuggling assets – AG

…following court victory over confiscated Mercedes Benz

In the wake of its court victory over a claimant seeking to recoup a Mercedes Benz Convertible seized as a part of a drug bust, the Attorney General (AG) Chambers headed by Attorney General Anil Nandlall has warned that the State will continue to hit drug smugglers where it hurts – that is their pockets.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

On Saturday, Nandlall said that the public can expect greater enforcement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and the AML/CFT Act and increased seizure of assets implicated in drug trafficking investigations – including moveable and immoveable properties.
“In execution of this policy, the recent efforts of the State to detain an expensive motor vehicle used in the trafficking of narcotics pending efforts to have the motor vehicle forfeited to the State was upheld by the High Court in a recent decision,” AG Nandlall said on Saturday in a statement.
This court case was brought by one Godfrey George Osbourne on November 22, 2021, after his Mercedes Benz Convertible C2000, driven by Troy Jacobs, was seized by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) following the discovery of 3.156 kilograms of cannabis inside the vehicle.
“The driver and another occupant were jointly charged for trafficking in narcotics contrary to Section 12 (3) of the Narcotic Drugs Act. Upon the arrest of these persons, the said motor car was detained by CANU officers pending the hearing and determination of the charges against the occupants of the motor vehicle,” the AG further explained.
In his court case, Osbourne sought an order to release the Mercedes back into his possession, trading under the name of UK Auto Parts. He claimed that while he is the owner of the vehicle, he was not involved in the drug trafficking case against the occupants of the vehicle at the time of the seizure.
“The State, represented by Attorney General, Mr Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC MP, Loretta Noel, Senior State Advisor, and Ms Yonika Roland, State Counsel, contended, among other things, that forfeiture of the said vehicle had not yet taken place, and that the vehicle was being lawfully kept in custody by CANU to permit the Magistrate to determine whether the vehicle is liable for forfeiture under the Narcotic Drugs Act upon conviction. Therefore, the State argued, the Application was premature, unwarranted, and an abusive of process,” the AG said.
Justice Jo-Ann Barlow agreed with the State’s arguments, dismissing Osbourne’s application and ordering him to pay $50,000 in costs to the Attorney General. Among the court’s findings was that “the Applicant had not submitted any evidence that the said vehicle was forfeited; b. the said vehicle was lawfully seized by CANU and not forfeited; and c. it has not reached the stage to deal with third party rights and that there is no basis to release the vehicle to the Applicant.”
According to the AG, the State will continue to hit the source of financing for those accused of drug smuggling and will also work with international law enforcement agencies as well as local law enforcement agencies in jurisdictions to which seized assets are traced.
“Studies have shown that this type or approach to drug trafficking and organised crime, that is, striking at their financial and economic base, usually has a significant impact in combatting these scourges, and the State has every confidence that such actions will have similar results in Guyana.”
“In this regard the Attorney General’s Chambers intends to work closely with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Guyana Police Force, the Special Organised Crime Unit, CANU, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), and other law enforcement agencies in Guyana in the execution of this policy,” he added.