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DEA to beef up presence in Guyana

The United States’ (US) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is working towards strengthening its presence in Guyana even as its existing operations bears fruit, says Chargé d’ Affaires of the US Embassy in Guyana, Bryan Hunt. 

“At the moment their presence are short-term personnel who rotate through the office…the DEA at this stage is in the process of identifying full-time personnel to be here over longer periods of time,” Hunt told reporters Friday, while adding that “once those folks are here I anticipate that the level of training and collaboration will increase under the Caribbean Basil Security Initiative.”

Hunt was unable to say, however, how soon these personnel will be mobilised and brought to Guyana.

Guyana, because of its geographical location, has been labeled a major transshipment zone for various forms of narcotics, particularly cocaine, moving from South America to North America, Europe and, less frequently, Africa.

Last year, in announcing that the DEA would be moving equipment and personnel to Guyana, former U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt had said that “there is definitely a shift to this region …the flows are increasing and there is need to boost our presence and engagement in the Caribbean.”

The announcement was made last June and Hunt says he believes the initiative is already bearing fruit.

“The collaboration has already shown results…I think it’s fair to say that’s since the DEA…enhanced their operations here we’ve seen a significant uptick of seizures that have happened at the ports at the airport, elsewhere, in the country of cocaine that has been moving through Guyana.”

He was optimistic that the DEA’s involvement in Guyana will continue to yield additional seizures.

The DEA does not act independently in Guyana, but collaborates with Guyanese drug enforcement officials.  “The DEA does not conduct its own independent work…they are here to support the work being done by the Customs Narcotics Unit, the police Narcotics Branch (and) the various organised crime units,” he explained.

Hardt had said last year that local agents, who would have had to be screened to ensure they would not leak information shared, would be responsible for arresting suspects. 

US authorities are also on record as saying that local law enforcement personnel, who will be working closely with the DEA, have to be properly screened to ensure they do not compromise investigations and operations.