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A few weeks ago, a Brazilian plane crash-landed in Orealla. In that plane a significant amount of cocaine of commercial quantity was found. Since last August there were at least three known major cocaine busts discovered outside of Guyana but were said to have left the ports of Guyana. One was discovered in Jamaica, another in Belgium, and the third in Germany. These busts totalled hundreds of millions of United States dollars, suggesting Guyana is a major transshipment.
The notoriety Guyana had earned in the past as a transshipment point many felt should have stayed in the past. They have been wrong. This notoriety has implications for Guyana’s image in the global economy, among friendly countries, and regional and international institutions. The last thing Guyana would want to be seen as is a pariah state, where sanctions and isolation threaten or could befall the country and people. The cocaine is being shipped hidden in rice, scrap metal and logs as revealed in the seizures.
Cocaine is an illegal drug. Likewise, is the sale from it. The money from cocaine will be filtered into society through laundering which is a criminal offence. The laundering of the money is also used to finance terrorism. Cocaine leads to turf wars and turf wars lead to killings in the streets, making society and people unsafe. Many Guyanese remember these dark and dangerous days and won’t want them to return.
For years international pressure was applied to the Government of Guyana, insisting on the establishment of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism law (AML/CFT). The AML/CFT law was passed during the A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change government under the guidance of then Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams.
These cocaine busts would bring Guyana again into the international spotlight and for the wrong reason. Somebody is letting the cocaine pass. The level of coordination from the point of sourcing to placing the illegal substance on the three ships, to passing through customs and leaving Guyana undetected requires a high level of sophistication. Were it not for international scrutiny Guyanese, outside of those involved, would have been none the wiser of the shame, disgrace and disrepute being brought on the country and people.
This is no ordinary criminal (cocaine) network operating here and abroad. It is a sophistication that should make the government and people concerned. Something is not right here and to the extent to which the supplier, courier and shipper are being able to move freely through Guyana and the ports cannot be ignored or trivialised. It is cause for national attention given what is seemingly a carefully coordinated operation.
Guyanese need not only know about these finds through the media but would like to know what the Government would do to unearth and break up the cocaine network. Somebody, no doubt with access to authorities, is allowing the cocaine to pass. The supply may have been independent or coordinated. If they were independent, it would suggest Guyana has multiple operators. If they are coordinated it would suggest a wide scale operation. Wide-scale or independent, they are both bad for Guyana’s image because cocaine would criminalise the economy and affect the safety and security of Guyanese.