CANU seizes 30 kg cocaine in gun battle with drug traffickers

– two suspects subsequently held

The Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) seized 30 kilogrammes of cocaine in three buckets on Saturday night in an operation that saw the exchange of gunfire with drug traffickers, who then managed to escape in a boat at the Number 73 beach.

CANU Head James Singh confirmed to Stabroek News that there was an exchange of gunfire between his men and the occupants of a boat. He said while the persons in the boat managed to escape, the ranks seized the drugs, which were in the three buckets. Ten kilogrammes of cocaine were found in each bucket.

Follow-up investigations led to two men being taken into custody by CANU and they are now assisting with investigations.

Singh declined to give further information as he pointed out that investigations are ongoing and he does not want to jeopardize same.

However, he said it was because of the difficult “circumstances of the terrain” that the persons managed to escape, adding that the safety of his ranks were of paramount importance.

Saturday night’s operation, this newspaper understands, was the end of a week-long undercover investigation by the drug investigators.

The investigation started in Essequibo–it is believed that the drugs came in from Venezuela–then led to the West Coast and ended in Berbice, where the drugs were being dropped off.

Stabroek News understands that from Berbice the drugs were destined for Suriname and it is believed that two well-known characters in Berbice were involved in the operation.

Meanwhile, Singh told Stabroek News that CANU is working to identify the major players in the operation.

He said the unit continues to work round the clock in its efforts to ensure that Guyana will one day no longer be the transshipment point for drugs.

And while this is an election period, Singh said, his officers are not letting up on their work and will continue to go after the drug traffickers. Ensuring national security, Singh said, is the aim of the unit.

While CANU, like the police, has faced intense criticism for its apparent failure in curbing drug trafficking, in recent months the unit has seen some successes in intercepting drugs. Earlier this year, with assistance from the Surinamese authorities, the unit managed to cripple what was believed to be a major drug ring operating between Guyana and Suriname.