Minister of State Joseph Harmon yesterday signaled that the report of the inquiry into the corruption allegations made against officials of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) by self-confessed drug lord Barry Dataram may not be made public as was initially stated, because of the sensitive information it contains.
Responding to questions during a post-Cabinet press briefing, Harmon said that the release of the report is the Minister of Public Security’s call. However, he said that the sensitive information that the document contains could “affect the reputations of persons who are currently in office.”
Harmon, while stressing that the allegations have already been put into the public domain, noted that “the inquiry had to deal with those allegations, public perceptions and the fact that there are people in public office who can be affected or damaged by these reports.”
Harmon was unable to state whether the inquiry would result in a shake-up within CANU. He said though that the architecture of the fight against drugs will undergo some change with the establishment of a National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) that will see greater levels of coordination of the agencies that are involved in the fight against illegal drugs.
During an interview with HGPTV Channel 67’s Nightly News in February, Dataram accused a high ranking CANU official of being involved in the drug trade and added that the official would take as much as $10 million to allow cocaine to leave the country.
Dataram also alleged that the majority of the drugs seized by CANU returns to the streets. He said that he knew of this because of his involvement and his friends’ involvement in the trade.
CANU’s head James Singh subsequently denied the allegations and called on Dataram to provide sworn statements for past and ongoing investigations.
Dataram, his wife and two friends are on trial for trafficking 284 pounds of cocaine found at his Diamond Housing Scheme property.
Following the allegations, President David Granger had ordered that a Board of Inquiry be conducted. The inquiry was conducted by Brigadier Bruce Lovell and the report was handed over to Harmon on July 8.
Granger has publicly commented on the findings, noting that it was found that Dataram’s allegations had no merit. “As far as the specific allegation is concerned, the commission found that they were without merit but he did discover other weaknesses or deficiencies in our anti-narcotics programme. For example, there is not enough funding, there is not sufficient equipment,” Granger said.