Operation Dragnet, a Joint Services tactic, will be extended indefinitely ahead of the next summit of Caribbean Community (Caricom) Leaders scheduled for July in Guyana, according to Head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum.
In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Blanhum said since Operation Dragnet began six months ago, law enforcement agents have netted in excess of 480 persons since it was started in December 2015. Persons were arrested and prosecuted for serious offences ranging from murder, robbery and arms, break and enter and larceny and rape.
The operation is a Joint Services initiative comprising ranks of the Police, the Guyana Defence Force, Prison and Fire Services. The Joint Services have been working across the country in “intelligence led operations”.
“We know that if we work collectively we will be able to achieve more and we have been growing in confidence and we know for certain that the Joint Service collaboration has been yielding a lot of results,” Blanhum explained.
Operation dragnet has also led to the seizure of 51 firearms, five stolen vehicles along with a number of illegal items the Crime Chief added. These matters are currently being prosecuted along with several cases for trafficking and possession of cocaine and cannabis.
The Crime Chief notes that the intensified operation during the height of the Golden Jubilee of Independence celebrations was also a success, despite the robbery of a UK visitor.
“We haven’t had any reports particularly in relation to tourists coming to Guyana and en-route to their destination and they were robbed,” Blanhum revealed. He said, much planning and preparation went into securing the many events that were hosted in honour of the Jubilee Independence celebrations.
Blanhum said the robbery of the foreigner was “unfortunate” but the police were prompt in apprehending and laying charges against the accomplice.
Operation Dragnet has been extended for an indefinite period as Guyana prepares to hosts the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Governments and State in July.
But to ensure the continued success of the Operation Dragnet and other initiatives like it, the police must control the traditional spike in crime that occurs during the July-August period.
According to Blanhum, statistical analysis has revealed that criminal activity usually spikes during this period. However, he assured that measures will be put in place to ensure a further reduction in the crime rate.
“A lot of efforts will be placed on our prevention posture and for those crimes which we won’t be able to prevent at least we will try our utmost to ensure that we detect those crimes and prosecute those who are involved,” the Crime Chief said.
However, Blanhum noted that robbery is on the increase; “that is robbery without a gun, no weapon was used,”Blanhum explained
The Guyana Police Force has recorded a 17 percent reduction in serious crimes for the year thus far. This includes a reduction in murder, break and enter larceny, gun robberies among others.