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Granger concerned hinterland residents not seeing illegal planes; police seek international help

The Beechcraft Kingair aircraft that was found on an illegal airstrip on August, 2017.

Even as President David Granger on Monday expressed surprise that no one in the hinterland has been seeing the landing and taking off of illegal aircraft on unauthorised airstrips, police said they have sought international help as part of their wide-ranging probe.

Head of the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Criminal Investigations Department, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum said local law enforcement agents have asked the International Police Organisation (InterPol) for help about the Brazilian-registered Beechcraft Kingair plane that was found in North Rupununi on Sunday, August 13, 2017.

“We have already involved Interpol (International Police Organisation),” he said while declining to divulge details of the probe. He said particulars of an identification card and passport found aboard the plane have been passed on to international partners.

A team of CID detectives are due to fly into the North Rupununi region to intensify their probe about the aircraft, bearing authenticated registration markings- PR-IMG- on a recently leveled illegal airstrip.

A cursory search of the plane, now located at the Eugene F. Correia ‘Ogle’ Airport has not uncovered any drugs or firearms.

The Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Colonel Egbert Field has said that no one has come forward to claim the twin-engine plane. The aircraft, which is formally registered to Banco Bradesco through a financing deal, was sold by Riwa SA to Sinalizacao Ltda ME in April, 2017 for US$850,000 cash.

In September 2015, an illegal Cessna plane was found sheltered in thick vegetation at Yupukari, Rupununi. Investigators later learnt that the plane bore false United States registration markings and had in fact originated from Colombia.

Earlier Monday, President Granger, in addressing the opening of the 2017 National Toshaos Council Conference, called on village leaders to work together to combat the threat of transnational criminal syndicates. “We cannot have a situation in any region where foreign aircraft land and deposit contraband substances and no one saw, no one heard, no one knows what occurred…We have to take responsibility for our security because these transnational cartels do not wish us any good,” he said.

Granger said those criminals would destroy households, families and communities and erode good governance that government and the NTC were trying to forge. He warned “these criminal cartels will bring violence and death.”

The President also expressed concern about alcoholism and teenage pregnancy as well as the high level of suicide in an unnamed hinterland community. He promised that government would work with the NTC through the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs to support improvement and equality of lives.