The Co-operative Republic of Guyana is a signatory to the international Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs pact, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances agreement and the Convention against Trafficking of Drugs & Psychotropic Substances treaty. The Anti-Money Laundering & Counter Financing of Terrorism Acts also bear official signatures from Georgetown.
Attempts have been made to smuggle drugs from Guyana in false bottom suitcases, hidden aboard planes, inside fruits, pepper sauce, female wigs and hair extensions, liquor, lumber, rice, fish and the stomachs of human drug mules. One year national statistics credited the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Drugs Squad, with eradication of 63 marijuana farms and seizure of 142,656 kilos of drugs worth US$60 million.
During December 2015 GPF officers, assigned to a stop and search roadblock, intercepted a taxi transporting 17.5 kilos of compacted marijuana valued at US$98,000. Officers arrested the driver and a female passenger for possession. Prior to the two suspects’ Court appearances GPF officers received a directive from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to immediately withdraw the female passenger’s drug trafficking charge and only indict the taxi driver.
The police officers re-categorized the female passenger, a material witness against the driver. She never attended Court and disappeared forcing dismissal of the case. America and Canada have labeled Guyana a major drugs transshipment point along the journey to North America and Europe. The country’s underground economy is thirty percent the size of its formal financial structure. Traffickers exploit land borders with Brazil, Venezuela, and Suriname. Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) plays a lead role in local drug related law enforcement. However the Agency is politically regulated and directed.
In November 2012 Malaysian anti-drugs personnel intercepted cocaine worth US$7.1 million, sealed in tins of coconut milk, shipped from Guyana. During the same month CANU agents unearthed 233 kilos of cocaine, stashed in a shipment of powdered detergent, destined for Niger in West Africa. In December that year a Guyanese male trafficker tried to smuggle 327 kilos of cocaine hidden in fish food to China. In Guyana one kilo of cocaine costs an average US$5,000. Similar cocaine weight ranges in market price from US$120,000 in China, US$200,000 in Australia, to US$30,000 in New York.
Over the last five years Guyana’s drug trafficking peaked. 2012 government statistics recorded US$21 million worth of cocaine seized at airports and seaports. Until July 2014 Guyana’s local counter-narcotics agents depended on intelligence and mechanisms to tackle drug trafficking, from the Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) situated US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office. In mid-January 2016 Washington assigned permanent staff to the DEA office in the US Embassy Duke and Young Streets, Kingston, Georgetown to assist the local counter-narcotics fight.
Guyana’s Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) decision makers concluded possession and operation of a primary national radar system, only covering seventy miles maximum radius, is too costly a “stand-alone” countermeasure against private drug planes. Guyana’s land mass extends eighty-three thousand square miles. Internal security operatives depend on neighboring Brazil’s Amazon Surveillance Integrated SIVAM/SIPAM system, co-opted to monitor chosen sections of Guyana by satellite for illegal activities. Brazil’s August 2002 introduced US$1.4 billion SIVAM’s twenty radars are integrated with five air traffic control radars and technology, sensors and specialized computer software.