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“Fully vetted” narcotics units before DEA office in Guyana

Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and US Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt signing the Letter of Agreement n Narcotics Control and Law Enforcment

The United States (US) is preparing to lay the groundwork to establish an office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by local vetting anti-drug agents to minimize the chances of they violating integrity of shared information and strategies.

American Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt announced on Thursday that some of the US$850,000in a successor agreement on Narcotics and Law Enforcement will be spent to “help establish fully vetted counter narcotics units.”

“Part of a process for DEA working, they like to have a vetted unit they are confident they can work with and share sensitive information with and really work in elevated partnership so I think tat is one of the core building blocks to getting DEA here,”  he said.

The Police Force Narcotics Unit and the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) of the Ministry of Home Affair are the leading drug fighting agencies in Guyana.

The American envoy did not set a time line for the DEA to open its doors here, but he suggested that US budget cuts were no longer a hurdle for doing so. “We are on the road to overcoming that and as part of this agreement, as I mentioned, there is funding for vetting units,” Hardt said. Guyana is regarded a major drugs transshipment point for South American cocaine to the Caribbean, North America and to a lesser extent Europe.

He confirmed that a fully vetted unit would include the screening of its members by lie detection tests and background investigations.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett pledged her government’s support for the establishment of a DEA office in Guyana.  “We are ready on our side to do whatever we have to do to get the DEA office here,” he said.

The DEA, through its office in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, works closely with the US Embassy in Guyana.

The US is believed to have several unsealed indictments against suspected Guyanese drug lords but American authorities are wary of compromised systems and legal  humbugs in getting them extradited to face trial.

In the past, Guyanese drug lords have been arrested in Trinidad, and Panama from where they have been taken to New York where they have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. They include Shaheed “Roger” Khan and  Peter Morgan.