Last Updated on Friday, 16 June 2017, 16:26 by Denis Chabrol
Former President Donald Ramotar Friday afternoon defended James Singh who has been fired as Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), saying the former drugs czar had a very fruitful relationship with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“I was one who had asked the DEA to set up an office here. Whenever I met with the officers of the DEA in Guyana and had conversations with them, they were always in very high praise of the work that Mr. James Singh was doing here in our country with CANU and how much that helped them in doing their work there in the United States and being able to put a lot of major drug people away and behind bars,” Ramotar told Demerara Waves Online News.
One of the terms of reference of a Commission of Inquiry into the detention and subsequent release of a suspected cocaine-laden vessel between February and 11 and 14, 2017 was whether any foreign power had anything to do with the operation.
Singh earlier Friday confirmed to Demerara Waves Online News that government has informed him of his removal as CANU Head.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon said President David Granger has instructed Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan to remove Singh who has been at the helm of that agency for at least 10 years.
Ramotar said he was not entirely surprised at Singh’s removal because it was consistent with the David Granger administration’s preference for “party loyalty” instead of professionalism and loyalty to Guyana. The former Guyanese leader hailed the former CANU Chief as someone who was committed to the fight against narco-trafficking. “When I was President, I can testify to the fact that James Singh worked tirelessly and with great results,” he said.
The former Guyanese leader, who said he would prefer to hear Singh respond to those terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry, contended that his removal from the leadership of CANU is an incentive to drug traffickers. “All the talk that this government is talking about fighting drugs, removing James Singh seems to be a concession to the drug barons in Guyana,” he said.
Retired Major General, Atherly has been acting head of CANU which is part of the Ministry of Public Security. Since then, the administration has said that there have been more drug busts in Guyana than in destination countries.
Government plans to set up a multi-agency National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) comprising of representatives from CANU, Guyana Revenue Authority and the Guyana Police Force.