Not good news from Mexico
February 12, 2000
THE news out of Mexico yesterday was not good for Guyana and other countries in the hemisphere known to be favourite target routes of drug rings.
The Reuters news agency in a dispatch from Mexico City said the United States anti-drug czar, Barry McCaffrey reported that Latin America's drug cartels are switching their smuggling routes back through the Caribbean as Mexico tightens the screws in the Pacific.
And that spells more worries for the security forces in this part of the world.
The sophisticated high-tech 1993 cocaine air drop at Loo Lands in the Upper Demerara River was perhaps the first major signal for Guyana that it was in the big league of the cartels.
A reminder of that major drugs bust came this week with the notorious bandit Linden London, also known as `Blackie' being shot dead in the same Eccles, East Bank Demerara fortress-like apartment building where the Colombian key player in the Loo Lands affair also dwelled.
Those bales of cocaine dumped from a low-flying aircraft at Loo Lands were clearly not meant for distribution on the local market.
And the other massive consignments uncovered here since have been constant reminders that the cartels have been using Guyana as a transshipment route for the far more lucrative North American and European markets.
In a bid to stem the cocaine flow their way, U.S. anti-drug authorities have sought the collaboration of security agencies in Guyana and other countries in the region and the cooperation has led to several busts.
As the Reuters report noted yesterday, U.S. military bases in Panama, such as Howard Air Force Base, had become the hub of U.S. counter-narcotics surveillance and interdiction efforts in South America to stop the flow of cocaine from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
But the U.S. last December completed its scheduled pullout from Panama and the handover of the Panama Canal and this, according to Mr McCaffrey, means that Panama faces a full-scale assault from narcotics traffickers.
"We're going to see a lot of stuff coming off the ferries (from neighbouring Colombia), every flight out of Colombia...that lands at Panama is going to have drugs on it. Every flight into Haiti has drugs on it", he said.
The Colombia-Guyana connection has been pretty well established for years now and with the easing of the pressure in Panama that Mr McCaffrey predicts, the cartels could be expected to take advantage of every opening.
"These criminal organisations are pretty quick to respond", he pointed out.
And this means that more drugs may be channelled through the Guyana conduit with all the dire consequences.
The side effects of the nefarious cocaine trade have been substantial with its use spreading among young people and this alone makes it all the more vital for every section of the society to be on guard against the cartels spreading their tentacles further in this country.
The news out of Mexico can be no cause for comfort.