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US gives Guyana more money to fight crime; ex-cop faces extradition for alleged cocaine trafficking

Shawn Neblett

The United States (US) on Tuesday announced increased funding to help Guyana fight crime, even as Washington asked for the extradition of a former Guyanese policeman to face prosecution for alleged drug trafficking.

“The Embassy notes the work of the Government of Guyana to ensure the security of its citizens, counter transnational crime, and increase effective and timely prosecutions, and is pleased to collaborate with Guyana on these efforts,” the embassy in Georgetown said.

The US says its Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) has set aside an additional US$850,000 to the “Strengthen the Criminal Justice System in Guyana” project and extended the timeframe to a total of five years. The Embassy says it will invest US$1,796,394 in Guyana’s justice system through this project.

The project, which is now expected to run until March 2021, will continue to be implemented by the Justice Education Society of Canada. The project began in 2016 and was expected to end this year.

The project will continue to build the capacity of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and other justice sector entities through training and technical assistance.

“By the end of this project, the Embassy intends for Guyana to have a cadre of police officers and justice sector officials who will successfully pursue and complete effective evidence-based prosecutions,” the US embassy added.

The US says the project so far has built the GPF’s nascent forensic video analysis (FVA) capacity. The GPF has used FVA methodology and equipment in the successful prosecution of several cases. Additionally, the diplomatic mission says the project has provided training and technical assistance in case management, including major crimes, crime scene management, evidence management and chain of custody, and law enforcement supervisory skills.

Meanwhile, State Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Stacy Gooding on Tuesday told Principal Magistrate Faith McGusty that proceedings have begun for former Guyanese policeman Shawn Neblett to be extradited for alleged cocaine smuggling.

Neblett is implicated in the discovery of 4,178 grams of cocaine that were found at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in January, 2017.

Neblett denied that he was about to leave Guyana illegally for neighbouring Suriname when he was arrested and said he was only aware that he had been blacklisted when he was informed by authorities.

If the US gets its way, Neblett would become the second person to be extradited within a short period, the first having been Troy Thomas who was sent to New York to face a murder charge.

The US has already said Thomas’ extradition marked a precedent.