Guyana and the United States (US) would be activating a 19-year old Shiprider Agreement that would allow the two countries to interdict drug traffickers, the US State Department said ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit.
“Following the Secretary’s visit, a bilateral Shiprider Agreement will come into force, enabling joint maritime and airspace patrols to interdict narcotics,” according to a fact sheet issued by Mr. Pompeo’s office.
The State Department said the coming into force of the agreement joins recent donations of US$200,000 in equipment and interceptor boat parts to strengthen Guyana‘s ability to patrol its territorial waters.
Under the Shiprider Agreement, Guyana may designate qualified law enforcement officials to act as law enforcement shipriders. In keeping with Guyanese law, these shipriders may embark on US law enforcement vessels and authorise the pursuit by the US law enforcement vessels on which they are embarked, of suspect vessels and aircraft fleeing into or over Guyanese territory and waters.
Several Caribbean countries have in force similar agreements.
Announcement that the Shiprider Agreement would come into force came less than one week after Guyanese authorities found a crashed Beechcraft plane in Issano, Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) with more than 300 kilogrammes of cocaine. A Cessna 206 plane was found in the same area with a Brazilian and two Venezuelans who told investigators they were heading to Suriname.
Over the past 10 years, at least two semi-submersible vessels, which are used for the trans-Atlantic movement of large amounts of cocaine, had been found in north-western Guyana.
The US regards Guyana as a major transshipment point for South American cocaine to the Caribbean, North America and even Africa.
The State Department notes that over the years, the US has helped to train Guyana’s Port Control Unit to deter the trafficking of cocaine and other illicit goods through Guyana.
The United States Coast Guard provides training and mentoring to the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) in order to improve port security. And the United States military provides training of Guyana Defense Forces personnel every year, which includes a current student at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy