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GDF officer, who revealed that army loaned guns to PNC, appointed organized crime unit czar

Lt.Col. Sydney James (Guyana Times photo)

Head of Intelligence at the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Lt.Col. Sydney James- the man who revealed that several army guns given to People’s National Congress (PNC) functionaries three decades ago have not been returned- is to head a unit aimed at fighting money laundering.

Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud confirmed that James has been appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police to head the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).  That arm of the police force is being established in keeping with recommendations by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

James’ appointment comes at a time when he is preparing to go into retirement from his military career.

Government is to spend more than GUY$60 million on upgrading a building on Camp Street, Georgetown immediately south of the Passport and Immigration Department to house SOCU’s headquarters.

James recently came to prominence when he told the Commission of Inquiry into the June 13, 1980 bomb-blast death of Dr. Walter Rodney that GDF records show that 155 guns of various caliber that had been loaned to W. Skeete and R. Corbin of the now defunct Ministry of National Development have not been returned.

His revelation was done in the context of the Commission of Inquiry’s terms of reference that includes the political environment from 1979 to 1980 and whether the security forces had gathered intelligence on opponents of the then PNC-led government of Guyana.

Since James’ disclosure, the political environment has become somewhat charged. The President Donald Ramotar administration has been repeatedly calling on Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Retired Brigadier David Granger to help return the guns.

The PPP has been stressing that if the weapons are not returned they could be used for political purposes. Two of the guns were several years ago recovered from the hands of criminals during a shootout with police and soldiers.