Last Updated on Wednesday, 1 February 2023, 18:46 by Denis Chabrol
The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) on Wednesday said its agents fired several shots “in the air” at Buxton, East Coast Demerara where members of the public attempted to free a suspected drug trafficker at the end of a high-speed chase.
“Members of the public became hostile, assaulted several officers and damaged several of the unit’s vehicles in an attempt to free Phillips who was in lawful custody, by pulling him out of CANU’s vehicle. This resulted in several shots being discharged in the air,” CANU said in a statement.
Arrested is Odearie Phillips, 25, of Vigilance Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara. CANU said 12 parcels of suspected marijuana weighing 23.2 kilogrammes valued GY$7 million were seized from the car that drove into a canal at the end of the chase. “The said vehicle drove into Buxton and evaded the officers on several occasions, including at a roadblock on Buxton public road,” that anti-drug agency said.
CANU’s position came amid allegations by a number of residents that the anti-drug agents fired indiscriminately in Buxton. The agency said “investigations are in progress.”
A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of twelve (12) parcels of suspected cannabis which amounted to 23.2kgs. The driver, Odearie Phillips, 25 years of Vigilance Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara, was arrested.
During Wednesday afternoon members of the public resorted to burning tires and other objects on the Buxton Public Road. The Railway Embankment Road was also blocked for a short period. A truck was also burnt by angry members of the public.
After the residents blocked firefighters and police from extinguishing the fires and clearing the road, Guyana Defence Force soldiers were Wednesday afternoon called in with a frontend loader. Armed with assault rifles, they accompanied firefighters who put out the fires and then the soldiers used the frontend loader to remove the debris.