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Following Friday’s bizarre incident in which gunshots were fired by ranks of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) during an operation at a business premises in Lethem, the Rupununi Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) is calling on the narcotics agency to withdraw its officers from the region.
“The Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) condemns the unprofessional conduct of ranks of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) during an operation in Lethem, yesterday, April 15th, 2021,” the body said.
The RCCI said that evidence suggests, “that CANU needs to immediately withdraw these officers from Lethem and the wider Rupununi Region and confine them to training facilities to ensure that they comply with established operating procedures while executing their duties.”
According to the RCCI, the “ action by one of the CANU officers is very similar to what criminals are perpetrating against our citizens across Guyana and for persons who are supposed to be professionally trained and who we should trust and depend upon to protect and serve with dignity, leaves much to be desired.”
The RCCI issued an immediate investigation into Thursday’s incident , noting that the incident left many persons in the town traumatised.
The RCCI cautioned it is no condoning violation of the country’s laws. The mentioned the incident in which a senior law enforcement officer, who was caught in Linden with smuggled items, was allowed to return to active duty seemingly without any penalities for the act he committed.
Lethem businessman , Lyndon Franklin, is reportedly to be taking legal action against CANU following the incident on Thursday. He also noted the attempts by a new media entity to tie his name to the smuggling of Haitian migrants to and from the Lethem area.
Franklin has since posted videos which details the attitude of the CANU ranks during the operation. He also provided updates on the items which he noted the authorities seized from his premises. He noted only 8 bottles of alcoholic beverages, which he received as gifts last December , were taken by the CANU ranks. This is contrary to what the agency reported in a media release on Thursday night.
CANU said that Franklin was detained following an operation at his Tabatinga residence in which 30 Cases Blackstone Whiskey Liquor, 9 cases Blend Seven Whiskey and 4 cases of Skarloff Liquor were seized.
The entity said the suspect was seen entering Guyana from Brazil in his lorry and was followed and was subsequently seen emptying suspected smuggled and undeclared goods in his yard when GRA and CANU Officials intercepted him and uncovered the smuggled items among other goods packed in his truck. He is expected to be charged and placed before the Lethem Magistrate’s Court for breaches of the Customs Act.
The entity said it has received reports that after being on the premises, the suspect’s dogs were released into the yard and allowed to advance towards its ranks. This, CANU said, resulted in an officer discharging a round to fend off the said threat after repeated requests to secure the animals.
However, CANU addressed the attitude of its ranks during the operation. It said it is “ holistically reviewing the incident to address the need for further training of its Ranks to ensure its Ranks are able to withstand civilian agitation and intimidations. Additionally, CANU is imploring civilians to desist from advancing to or attacking its Officials in any way whilst they are executing their duties.”