Police, CANU abandon GRA officers during Mahaica River shootout

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…two managers sent on leave as investigation continues

As the authorities continue to investigate an incident in which seven Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) enforcement officers came under heavy gunfire in the Mahaica River earlier this month, reports are that the men were left on their own by two other law enforcement teams which accompanied them to the area two nights prior.

According to sources familiar with the incident, the GRA enforcement officers along with ranks of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) and police ranks conducted operations in the area two nights prior to the shootout on September 2, 2021.

On the night in question, the GRA team prepared to travel to the area in a fibre glass boat but when the team was told that they were going to the area minus the police and CANU, the men objected. “They find it strange that all three teams went the Tuesday and Wednesday night but on the Thursday night, they were told to go alone,” a source stated.

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The team was told that back-up was on the way. In addition, they were threatened with disciplinary action by those in charge of the unit if they did not proceed to the location. As such, sometime after 11:00pm that night the GRA team travelled to the Mahaica River area alone. They were told that the police would provide backup but according to a source the police showed up after the men came under fire.

The GRA stated in a release that two officers attached to the Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) of the body were seriously injured during an anti-smuggling operation during the late hours of Thursday evening of September 2, 2021.

The body said that acting on information received, around 11:45PM, the team of LEID officers in coordination with police ranks moved to intercept a motor vessel suspected to be transporting un-customed goods in the Mahaica River by land and water. But reports are that the police nor CANU ranks were nowhere to be seen at the time of the shootout. It was noted that sometime had passed before police rants visited the scene to investigate the shooting.

“The GRA’s vessel came under high-powered and spotlighted gunfire emanating both from suspect’s property and the suspected vessel, clear evidence that they may have been tipped off. The LEID officers took evasive action by lying flat in their vessel and returned fire in the general direction of the perpetrators. However, the perpetuator’s bullets pierced the GRA’s vessel and injured two of the officers in the abdomen and face,” the GRA stated.

One of the officers was shot to the face while another sustained injuries to his abdomen during the shootout. They have since been released from hospital.

GRA stated that the LEID officers are yet to determine whether any perpetuators were injured, and is yet to apprehend the owner of the vessel or leader of the perpetuators, who is known to both the GRA and the police for his smuggling activities.

Despite the constant threat to their lives, LEID Officers continue to fearlessly execute their duty in order to curb the scourge of smuggling and safeguard the country’s revenues, the body stated.

Meanwhile, reports are that a manager and another senior officials within the revenue body were sent on leave in connection with the incident. Another manager and a deputy commissioner remains on the job despite reports that the latter two organised the operation and passed the order for the enforcement team to go alone to the area.

A Mahaica businessman, whose name has been called following similar confrontations at the Mahaica River in the past has since told another section of the media that he has nothing to do with the most recent incident. The man claimed that he is being used as a scapegoat by others with ulterior motives and has accused the GRA of harassment.



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