Dataram Commission of Inquiry finds “pattern of misconduct” at CANU

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 October 2016, 8:19 by Denis Chabrol

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan on Friday disclosed that a Commission of Inquiry into claims by now convicted drug lord, Barry Dataram against the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) has found “deficiencies” in the way that anti-drug agency works.

Sources said that among the observations found during the probe by Retired Brigadier of the Guyana Defence Force, Bruce Lovell are poor administrative accountability, an absence of proper systems , the alleged re-circulation of seized drugs back on the streets, absence of specialized training about the relevant laws of Guyana, and the searching of premises without the necessary warrants.

A section of the report subsequently seen by Demerara Waves Online News confirms that Dataram failed to provide Lovell with sufficient information to back up his claims. However, based on information gathered from other witnesses, the report concludes that a range of serious problems exist at CANU.

“The testimony of Barry Dataram, upon whose expose’ this Inquiry was initiated, did not achieve the threshold of sufficiency required to support his allegations first made known in the media.  He was reluctant to advance specific charges, call names, and cite instances to support his generalized claims.

The Inquiry, however, was able to place a spotlight on CANU, revealing that there exist patterns of misconduct, improper and (eds: alleged) criminal behavior by the State’s Officials due to their (eds. alleged) involvement in illicit, illegal and corrupt activities.  The Inquiry also discovered the need for a re-engineering of CANU to rectify the capability gaps found in its doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policy.

Months before Dataram was convicted and sentenced in absentia on September 27, 2016 to five years imprisonment for being in possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, he had appeared on the privately-owned HGPTV Nightly News charging that CANU operatives had themselves been involved in facilitating the smuggling of cocaine through the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. He was subsequently caught in neighbouring Suriname and returned to Guyana where he was sentenced to an additional two years for passport forgery, absconding the law and failing to leaving Guyana illegally.

The Public Security Minister said the deficiencies at CANU were “not uncommon and so abnormal” and he expected the proposed umbrella organization- National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) would help correct those deficiencies .

“It is not uncommon and so abnormal and I believe that the fact that we are now making an umbrella organization with CANU coming under it, the GRA coming under it, Police Narcotics coming under it, what we now call National Anti Narcotics Agency (which will soon be implemented), those all will be deficiencies that will be corrected with that integrated, more absorptive umbrella organization. So we feel that that will be the remedy,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Public Security Minister said Guyana has received no recent request from the United States for Barry Dataram’s extradition. On the contrary, he said the US. wants him to remain in Guyana.

The US had previously requested Dataram’s extradition but he was able to circumvent his transferral to the United States through a set of legal maneuvers.