Jamaica intercepts 126lbs of cocaine in tea bags container from Guyana

A container shipment that originated from Guyana was on Thursday intercepted with 57.5 kilogrammes (126 pounds) of cocaine at Kingston Free Zone, in Jamaica, and local sleuths have since launched an investigation.

Yesterday’s edition of the Jamaica Gleaner reported that the 52 packages of cocaine with an estimated street value of US$57,000 or J$57 million, were seized in a joint operation by Jamaica Customs and the Trans-national Crime and Narcotics Division (TCND).

The article stated that according to the Jamaica Customs Department, “the contraband was found wrapped in brown masking tape in a 40-foot import container with commodities declared as tea bags from Guyana.”

Based on what was stated in the article, no arrests have been made but investigations are ongoing.

Head of the Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) James Singh confirmed knowledge of the bust. “We are talking with the Jamaicans and the exchange of info has already begun,” he said.

This is the second instance recently of cocaine being found in a container shipped from Guyana and again raises concerns about the scanning and detailed searching of containers before they leave Port Georgetown.

It was reported in the Dominican Republic press on August 13 that the country’s National Drugs Control Agency (DNCD) had seized 69 packages of cocaine found in a container with bags of rice which originated from Guyana but made a scheduled stop in Jamaica. The rice was on its way to Venezuela.

Three persons were arrested but it is unclear if charges were ever laid. Local authorities had questioned where the drugs were placed in the shipment. A local investigation had been launched but it is unclear if officials have made any progress.

Back then Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Khurshid Sattaur said the agency would reinstitute “stringent measures” to facilitate the examination of exports, including rice shipments. It is unclear if these measures are in force.

When contacted about this latest incident, Sattaur said he was unaware of it and once drug busts are made outside Guyana they fall under CANU.

Over the years, drug traffickers have been finding innovative ways to conceal drugs. Guyana has been described as a transshipment point. Drugs easily enter the country through its porous borders and then leave often without detection owing to our poor security practices.

Lumber, rice, vegetables, fruits, seafood, coconut milk and pepper sauce are some of the means used by traffickers to transport drugs from Guyana.

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