Police must look beyond drug couriers

Stabroek News
July 13, 2000

More and more it is exasperating that our Police Force and other security agencies have been unable to crack the cocaine transshipping and distribution networks that criss-cross the country. Mule after mule is being dragged before the court and imprisoned without any measurable inroads into the machinery that is feeding this reprehensible trade. It makes little sense to deploy scarce resources in trying to apprehend one or two drug carriers when the supply lines are open and churning out dozens of willing carriers who are attracted by the high returns.

The cocaine being found has to be coming from transshipments down south, portions of which are deposited here for onward delivery or as payment for collusion in transshipping.

Handling of these transshipments require the existence of finely-tuned criminal gangs and the storage of the coke at secure locations.

As we have said many times before, this is where the Police Force, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit and allied agencies must be beefed up to penetrate and unravel these networks. The investigative and undercover steel of these forces need to be honed for this purpose. The police can no longer depend on the discovery of couriers or the odd stash of drugs. It must go to the source and dismantle the organizations that are fuelling drug trafficking and transshipment. It is interesting that none other than the Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis made an appeal for more analytic work this week. Addressing the Junior Officer's Course and CID Junior Investigator's Course on Monday, Lewis urged the participants to utilise the analytical approach and not to rely on a statement and confession. Of course, the police have been heavily criticised for the suspiciously widespread use of confessions many of which disintegrate in a court of law because they were coerced. We endorse Mr Lewis' call for more reliance on investigative acumen and analysis and urge the government to recognise that putting resources into this area can take a big munch out of drugs racketeering and limit the repercussions of the trans-border narcotics trade and terrorism.

And the racketeers are beating a path straight to our front door and throwing down the gauntlet. The discovery on July 5th of a burnt-out Cessna aircraft at Mabura Hill is a case in point. The plane was obviously carrying illicit cargo and was deliberately burnt to prevent identification of its origins and owners. It may have been dropping off cargo here or it may have been merely transshipping. We really won't know unless our police and other agencies do some real sleuthing here or get foreign help. But the odds are that we will never know. A similar incident on an abandoned airstrip in Bartica that should have sounded shrill alarm bells in 1998 peetered out into nothing. There are also reports that satellite imagery over Guyana has picked up numerous alien aircraft zipping through our airspace no doubt on drug runs and drop-offs.

We cannot afford to ignore these signs which portend a scale of criminal enterprise that could possibly overwhelm a vulnerable economy such as ours and entrench the full gamut of narco-terrorist activities here.

The needs of this country are many and no doubt the government grows tired of these constant demands on its purse and limited resources. It is, however, a matter of priority and discerning that expenditure in certain crucial areas would eventually cost less than the eventual economic and social toll from inaction.

Get the mules to spill the beans and bring the drug barons to court!

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