Within recent years many persons have gone before the courts and pleaded guilty to trafficking large quantities of cocaine and marijuana but there has been little evidence of follow-up arrests or charges as it relates to the distributors of the drugs.
It is believed that the origin of these intercepted drugs will remain unknown unless focus is placed on planting undercover agents in businesses and circles which are suspected to be connected to drug trafficking. At this point it is unclear what steps the drug enforcement agencies are taking to track the origin of these drugs and the big players.
During a recent interview with Stabroek News, APNU MP Winston Felix stressed the importance of good intelligence to gather the information necessary to cripple the drug industry. He reiterated a call for the establishment of an effective intelligence unit.
This newspaper singled out cases such as Kara Kara resident Dexter Daniels who took the rap for 1.2 tons of high grade marijuana and 4.222 kilogrammes of cocaine which was found at a Diamond house, just one day after he professed his innocence. Felix, when quizzed as to why there seems to be no focus on the origin of the drugs in addition to which those caught with narcotics were usually prepared to plead guilty, said that in many instances these persons would refuse to reveal this information.
“Unless the intelligence comes good about a case that is running, you cannot afford to go and expose yourself like that,” he said, which was why APNU has been urging the government to establish a “a proper intelligence unit” that can develop sources, and can give them “the kind of information that they need.” The former commissioner of police is a parliamentary representative of APNU and is shadow Minister of Home Affairs.
He stated that there have been cases of cocaine interceptions which he feels the local authorities should have allowed to exit the country so that the drugs land in the hands of US officials. He expressed the view that local narcotics personnel lack the expertise and resources to handle some of these cases.
According to Felix intelligence people are needed at various levels and in the absence of such a structure “you will never be able to touch the ones at the top.” He stated that “all you are doing is running behind the little cocaine traffickers and marijuana (traffickers)…You need all, but the popular thing here is to get two body that got two spliff and two lil ounces of cocaine and so on…the small fry are needed in the battle but the small fry must not be used just to show that you are doing something. What happen to the big ones? You have to interdict those and disrupt the flow of the big ones.”
There have been numerous drugs busts both by ranks of the Police Narcotics Branch and Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport – the country’s main port of entry. There have been concerns about other ports such the Brazil-Guyana crossing and the Guyana-Suriname crossing. Large quantities have been intercepted in the Corentyne, Berbice area.
Security sources have consistently said that in order to catch the big players what is needed is very good information from on the ground. While there have been multiple cases where there were suspicions of surreptitious activities, there was never good intelligence for officials to work with.
It has often been noted too that it is because of a lack of a system of undercover agents and good sources that Guyana continues to be a destination of choice for drug kingpins whose aim is to have it reach the more developed countries. It has long been suspected that there are three levels in the drug trafficking world – a top, a middle and a lower. The lower category are the traffickers who are caught attempting to transport the drugs; the middle will likely be the distributors and the top will be the original source of the drugs or the big players.
On July 10, Daniels appeared in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court charged with narcotics trafficking. The man denied the two charges relating to the possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana when they were read to him by Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry before whom he appeared.
The Linden resident was then remanded to prison and told that he had to return to the Providence Magistrate’s Court on July 14.
Surprisingly, he returned to the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court the following day, this time represented by counsel and claimed ownership of the drugs. He was sentenced to three years in jail.
The marijuana was found in a parked truck on the bridge outside a house located at Lot 9, Section ‘C’ Grove, East Bank Demerara while the cocaine was found on the premises, under a mattress in a bedroom.
An apologetic Daniels told the court that he made a mistake for which he must face the consequences and admitted that the illegal items belonged to him.
Last month US-based chef Darren Owen Harris accepted responsibility for 1.454 kilogrammes of cocaine, which was found concealed in his suitcase handle while he was an outgoing passenger at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.“Is me and meh son get hold but he din know what was in there [the suitcase handles]. Is I put it in deh,” he had said before he was sentenced to three years in prison.
The man indicated to the court that his son Darren Owen Harris Jr who was charged along with him had no involvement in the crime. Harris Jr was remanded to prison on the first court appearance but was later granted bail.
In November 2012, Dennis Jones, the exporter who was nabbed after he tried to ship over 300 kilos of cocaine in a container of packaged soap powder to Niger Republic, in Africa, was sentenced to four years in prison after he pleaded guilty to narcotics trafficking.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Jones 58, of lot 239 Caneview Avenue, South Ruimveldt Park, had said before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry handed down the sentence at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
Jones, the court was told, had been deported to Guyana from the United States, after being convicted of conspiracy to traffic cocaine. The cocaine which was found in bags of breeze branded soap powder packets in a container at the John Fernandes Limited terminal, at Mandela Avenue, had an estimated street value of US$10 million.
There have been a number of cases were large quantities of drugs were found locally but persons have not yet been charged. Drugs originating from Guyana have also been intercepted in countries in the Caribbean, Malaysia, the UK and other parts of the world.
Opposition leader Brigadier (rtd) David Granger had told this newspaper in an interview a week ago that the cocaine and marijuana which are being seized are just a small fraction of what is actually in the country, and that the government is to be blamed for its failure to effectively tackle the thriving local narco-trafficking operation especially since no steps have been taken to secure the country’s poorly manned borders.