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The Guyana Police Force on Sunday said a single-engine illegal plane landed at the Mahdia airstrip in Region 8 (Potaro-Siparuni). The police said the Cessna Skyline plane “landed without authorisation” and may have come from neighbouring Venezuela.
The aircraft, according to the Police, landed at the Mahdia airstrip at about 2:20 p.m. Sunday, with cargo of almost 640 pounds of cocaine and 120.45 pounds of marijuana. The plane was piloted by Colombian pilot, 42-year old Rodrigues Estiven and Brazilian co-pilot 24-year Mateus Vinicius Alberto who were arrested and taken into custody,” the Police said.
Eight of the 10 bags of cocaine was marked King Coca 30 similar to the King Coca-branded 973 blocks of cocaine seized in South Africa last year from aboard a Panama-registered fishing vessel. Police said they also found two Global Positioning Service (GPS) devices, one satellite phone, one radio set, and two cellular phones. The Force informed that they are trying to determine the intended destination of the plane, which appears to have United States registration markings, N5470Z.
Information from the police and focus on this crime do not allay local and international concerns that Guyana is a major transshipment and also destination point for cocaine. In November 2020, InSight Crime, an international organised crime watchdog body, expressed concern that the “recent string of high-profile interceptions targeting international drug trafficking operations has confirmed Guyana remains a crucial transit point for cocaine headed to the United States and across the Atlantic.” These problems re-emerged in magnitude with the change of government in August 2020.
Police explanations of these incidents raise more questions than answers. Questions are raised in some quarters about the quality of staffing, monitoring, etc., of Guyana’s aviation space and government’s seriousness about trafficking in illegal drugs. A former police officer, speaking with Village Voice, said revenue from oil and gas could be used to improve Guyana’s monitoring capacity and better management of the hinterlands and borders.