Guyana and the United States yesterday signed a Memorandum of Under-standing for the operation of a vetted counter-narcotic investigative unit programme.
At his office on Brickdam, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan signed on behalf of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) and US Ambassa-dor Perry Holloway on behalf of the US Drug Enforcement Administra-tion (DEA).
A release from the Ministry of Public Security said that the mission of the Vetted Unit Programme of the DEA is to train, equip and provide necessary assistance to partner countries so that specialized units can meet certain mutually-determined standards and can bolster capacity in integrity,
professionalism, and competence in fighting drug crime.
The programme is “intended to ensure better investigations and interdictions, and to prosecute and dismantle high-value targets in narco-trafficking networks”, the release said.
CANU and other agencies have been criticised for years for being unable to arrest and prosecute major drug figures. There has also been deep concerns over the corrupting of personnel in the drug fighting network.
The release said that members of Guyana’s law enforcement sector who will participate in this Vetted Unit Programme will have to “pass certain background checks, plus tests as to medical and psychological fitness for duty, polygraph testing and random drug testing.”
The DEA will be responsible for all expenses for training, whether this be local or international, the release said.
Polygraph testing in the past of CANU officers and others had been a source of controversy. A vetted unit that is highly trusted by the DEA is the benchmark required for DEA offices in countries, sources note. The DEA has set up an office here after many years of deliberations between the two governments.
The release said that the MOU is to remain in force for a period of five years.
It added that Ramjattan also took the opportunity to request aid from the US in relation to a high-powered portable container scanner to examine the contents of containers at various wharves in Georgetown. Bryan Hunt, U.S. Deputy Head of Mission said that the request is actively being looked into and experts in the US are presently engaged in identifying costs and maintenance arrangements for such an asset.
Ramjattan was also pleased that the US Government is procuring equipment for virtual police training by trainers out of the US through tele-conferencing. The equipment will be stationed at the Police Academy.
This has fructified because of the provision of higher speed internet services provided by GTT to the Academy.
According to the release, there will now be more intensive training of officers and ranks in Guyana without the expense of having to bring to Guyana US trainers, or having to send to the US.
In attendance at the signing ceremony was Head of CANU James Singh.