Strenuous efforts must be made to tackle drug trafficking

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, it is clear that there is still much work to be done to put a real dent on drug trafficking.
In some cases, persons carrying illegal drugs slip through our ports here undetected. It is only when they arrive at their destinations that they are discovered with the illegal drugs. The same goes for cargo containers, boxes, parcels, and so on. In quite a few cases, they pass through the relevant security systems here undetected due to what some perceive to be collusion of numbers of officers from the relevant agencies involved.
International and regional institutions have, for quite some time now, been trying to come up with a strategy that would 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, Europe and other destinations. They are also using containers with the aim of concealing 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.
The Caribbean is the midway point between illicit drug producers in the south and consumers in the north. Despite 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 borders undetected.
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 stated that Guyana is a transit country for cocaine destined for the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, and West Africa.
Cocaine originating in Colombia is smuggled to Venezuela, and onward to Guyana by sea or air. The report had said that smugglers also transit land borders with Brazil, Venezuela, and Suriname.
Traffickers are attracted by the country’s poorly monitored ports, remote airstrips, intricate river networks, porous land borders, and weak security sector capacity.
On the positive side, with US funding through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Container Control Programme (CCP) established “a multi-agency CCP Port Control Unit at a city wharf.
The objective in setting up the unit was to strengthen the country’s capacity to combat the threats posed by drug and gun traffickers using shipping containers to ply their trade.
This was an excellent initiative, which has seen some successes so far in preventing illegal items from passing through our borders.
Also, Guyana has enacted crucial legislation that could enable a more effective response to the threat of drug trafficking. For example, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009, Interception of Communications Act of 2008, Criminal Law Procedure Act (revised in 1998), and Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act of 1988 were designed to enhance the investigative capabilities of law enforcement authorities and prosecutors to obtain convictions for drug traffickers.
Certainly, drug trafficking and related criminal activities represent one of the most potent threats to democracy and stability in Guyana and the region. It undermines the rule of law and democratic governance, hence strenuous efforts must be made by all stakeholders involved to win the battle against traffickers.
It should be noted, too, that drug trafficking is not only associated with violence and organizsd crime, but evidence shows that it is linked to terrorist activities, and is also connected to money laundering, arms and human trafficking, and corruption.