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Govt gets thumbs up for fighting drug trade; DEA to target barons

Cocaine-in-star apples intercepted by Canadian authorities (File photo)

Former American Ambassador, Brent Hardt has said that the Guyana government has demonstrated its willingness to fight the narcotics trade, and drug barons would be brought down by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Asked why the US has been virtually silent in calling on government to go after drug lords in the same way that there have been numerous calls for local government elections, press freedom and gay rights, Hardt said there was no need to publicly press the Donald Ramotar administration to do more in that area.

“We don’t find the government as an unwilling partner in any of this. We are actively engaging with the government in all of these areas so I think you engage in public advocacy when that is appropriate tool to try to move the discussion and debate forward,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.  He stressed that the Guyana government has been a “solid partner” in the drug-fight by identifying personnel to take advantage of training programmes.

The former diplomat, who is now Political Advisor to the Commander of US Special Operations in Florida, expects that the DEA’s presence in Guyana would play a major role in indicting major drug traffickers.   “It’s the more complex investigations where I think more capacity is needed and that’s why having a DEA presence here can be instrumental because really that’s their focus. They are not so much interested in picking up the odd traveller here with cocaine stashed in a bag,” he said.

The US Congress recently agreed to establish a DEA office inside the American embassy here to liaise with Guyanese narcotics agents who are to first undergo intense screening including lie-detector tests. Guyana continues to benefit from training and equipment under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) to fight narco-trafficking and money-laundering as well as equip youths with basic work-skills.

Guyanese often question why several persons with inexplicable sources of wealth have been constructing huge buildings and owning pricy vehicles.

Hardt noted that in the past cases have been built but he did not cite any of them. “There is ongoing activity and as we get information and as we build information we will be able to build more cases,” he said.

Guyanese drug lord Shaheed “Roger” Khan was arrested by US federal agents in Trinidad where he was sent to ostensibly be deported to his homeland. He was taken to New York where he was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for cocaine trafficking and witness tampering. He is, however, due to be released from jail in July, 2019. Similarly, Guyanese businessman and car racer, Peter Morgan, was arrested in Trinidad while he was returning from Panama. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a New York court for cocaine trafficking.

Huge shipments of cocaine in produce, furniture and processed foods originating from Guyana have been intercepted in North America, Malaysia and Ghana.