Avoid Drugs – Avoid Jail

Ask the Consul

Installment One Hundred and Fifteen

The U.S. Embassy is concerned about the number of American citizens and U.S. Legal Permanent Residents who have been arrested in Guyana for narcotics-related offences. Often, these individuals, lured by the prospect of financial gain or other reward, agree to get involved in drug trafficking. The sad reality is that many of them end up in prison. Serving time in prison is difficult, even more so in a foreign country far away from home. American citizens are encouraged to exercise sound judgment and avoid situations that potentially involve drug trafficking.

This installment of Ask the Consul is intended to increase awareness of the warning signs leading up to, and the very severe penalties for, drug trafficking.

I am planning a trip to the U.S. and someone asked me to take some packages. What should I do?

You will be held responsible for the contents of your luggage. Do not accept packages from anyone you do not know, and do not allow anyone to place packages in your luggage.

Be aware that individuals traveling to the United States are sometimes tricked into carrying illegal substances. Illegal substances can be concealed in almost anything, so be certain you know what you are carrying in your luggage.

Carrying drugs, either in your luggage or hidden on your person is illegal. Drug laws in Guyana are strict – travelers found carrying even a small amount of narcotics risk long jail sentences and heavy fines.

If a U.S. Citizen is arrested in Guyana, what assistance can the U.S. Embassy offer? Will the U.S. citizen be sent home to the U.S. immediately?

The Embassy visits arrested U.S. citizens and can notify their family and friends of their detention. The Embassy cannot get an arrested U.S. citizen out of jail. The individual must face the Guyanese legal system and may hire an attorney authorized to practice law in Guyana. People convicted of drug related offenses are often sentenced to – and serve – several years in jail.

I know some people who are offering to pay my airfare and hotel and give me a paid vacation in Guyana. Is this legitimate?

Such offers are often not credible. You may be asked to be a drug carrier. Many U.S. citizens have been offered such incentives only to end up in jail. Spending four or five long years in prison is not worth the free trip or cash incentive.

I am a U.S. citizen and I have already come to Guyana on a free paid vacation and I have been asked to carry drugs back to the U.S. I am afraid and I want to go home.

Do not risk ruining your life by agreeing to carry drugs; it is illegal and you will not be better off if you carry drugs. You will very likely go to jail. You should contact the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy at 225-4900 extension 4222. They can assist you in contacting your friends or family in the U.S. who can wire you funds to help get you back to the U.S. safely.

“Ask the Consul” is a fortnightly column from the U.S. Embassy answering questions about U.S. immigration law and visa issues. If you have a general question about visa policy please email it to us at AskGeorge@state.gov. We select questions every other week and publish the answers in Stabroek News and on our website at http://georgetown.usembassy.gov/ask-the-consul.html . Information about visas and travel can be viewed at http://georgetown.usembassy.gov, http://travel.state.gov, and at http://www.dhs.gov. Applicants are strongly encouraged to prepare their own documents and avoid third-party advice. U.S. Consular rules change frequently and non-US government advisors often provide inadequate or inaccurate information.

Other than the questions we select, we DO NOT respond to questions sent to Ask the Consul. Please contact the visa inquiries unit (email visageorge@state.gov or call 225-7965 between 8 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday) if you have questions about a specific case.

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