Drugs task force criticises Granger statement on busts

The Ministry of Home Affairs’ Task Force on Narcotics and Illicit Weapons yesterday lashed out at Opposition Leader David Granger over statements he made recently about cocaine trafficking.

It however acknowledged that government has recognised that there would be negative effects resulting from the absence of strong counter drug programmes.

In a press release issued yesterday the Task Force said the contents of an article, which was published in this newspaper on Sunday last, were noted with “deep concern” and as a consequence it wanted to advise the public on the issue.

Granger, a retired Brigadier, during the interview with Stabroek News had noted among other things that big noise is made over interceptions of cocaine shipments due to leave Guyana but nothing is being said about how the drugs are getting into the country in the first place. He also criticised the government and more so Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee for failing to effectively tackle the issue.

The press release stated that cocaine is being transshipped through many countries around the world, Guyana being no exception. It noted that this country’s geo-strategic location is not an excuse but rather a fact that makes the country an attractive target for drug traffickers.

“Ironically, it should be appreciated that when established law enforcement counter drugs measures  are penetrated and drugs pass through Guyana,  those drugs are clearly being shipped to other countries, much the same as  other countries with equal counter drug measures in place, would be perceived when  shipments  leave their shores for Guyana,” the release said.

It added, “the Government of Guyana recognises the negative effects that would result in the absence of strong counter drug programmes and is therefore committed to the constant implementation of national, hemispheric and global measures to strengthen the nation’s fight against drugs.”

According to the release, in addition to that Guyana is constantly engaged in discussions with neighbouring countries with a view to reviewing and upgrading counter drug agreements to ensure their relevance.

“While it is true that Guyana’s extensive borders present many national security challenges, these borders and our many waterways are not left unattended as the article suggests but are persistently scrutinised by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to improve their security,” the release said.

The Task Force and committees which have been established by the Ministry of Home Affairs complement the work of these agencies by addressing smuggling in all areas including weapons and fuel.

The units/committees also focus on security in a holistic manner – monitoring of airport, seaport, and all other ports of entry.

The release said Granger should clarify what is meant by “big noise” when cocaine is discovered on the way out.

“Whenever drugs are found concealed at a specific storage location or seized immediately before being shipped out of the country, it is quite normal that there would be media coverage,” the release said adding that the recent seizures of cocaine in soap powder, drinking straws and fish food were given media coverage as any previous drug seizure that amounts to double digits or higher in kilogrammes, would normally receive.

It said that the media coverage helps to improve public awareness of law enforcement agencies working together effectively, “despite Parliament’s 2012 budget cuts and negative comments by the Opposition Leader”.

Hope was also expressed that the media coverage would act as a deterrent to persons currently involved in illegal activities as well as those considering getting involved in similar activities.

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