Drugs cartels disputes among main factors behind crime wave
-- Luncheon
Guyana Chronicle
October 31, 2002

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HEAD of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday indicated that the narcotics trade and disputes within drugs cartels operating in Guyana are among the main contributing factors influencing the current spate of high-profile crimes and criminal activities plaguing the country.

He said the current crime wave has at least three major influences or contributing factors - the role of politicians in Opposition in creating and contributing to this volatile atmosphere; the drugs/narcotics trade and disputes within the cartels operating in Guyana; and at the same time, ordinary criminals carrying out their criminal activities in various parts of the country with seeming impunity.

This linkage between the drugs trade and the escalation of crime in the region was also discussed at the Seventh Meeting of the Caribbean Community Council of Human and Social Development (COHSOD) held at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown last week.

COHSOD VII, in an objective analysis of the crime situation within the region, has determined that the escalation of crime being witnessed is highly related to drugs and the drugs trade.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, in his remarks last Friday to the closing session of COHSOD VII, noted that crime and the drugs culture are major problems which the Caribbean Community must overcome.

"To continue on the present path, would all but destroy the region's hope for social and economic development," he reiterated.

Commenting on the impact of crime on the region, CARICOM Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Edward Greene said a lot of it has to do with the "new wave of crime".

"One of the results of the preliminary discussions within the CARICOM Task Force (on crime) was the reason for the escalation of crime is now highly related to drugs and the drugs trade," Greene said.

Using Guyana, the base of the CARICOM Secretariat as an example, Greene commented: "I think that if you objectively look at what's happening in Guyana, for example, and what seems to be the pattern, according to this report - it is that a lot of the violent, vicious crimes - crimes that really cause fear in society - (a lot of it) is linked to drugs."

"We need to face up to that. That is happening throughout the region at the moment," the Assistant Secretary General added. There are indications, he said, that Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago may be the hardest hit so far.

Luncheon, at his regular post-Cabinet news conference at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, noted that Cabinet at its most recent meeting on Tuesday, was provided with an update on the internal security and crime situation in the country by Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj.

He pointed out that the most recent occurrences and the subsequent revelations made within the last 24 to 48 hours preceding the Cabinet meeting, were given appropriate consideration.

"Importantly, Cabinet was made aware of the implications of the arsenal of weapons that was discovered as well as the Molotov cocktail-making factory (channa-bombs)" that was also discovered in the Police raid on Monday, Luncheon told reporters.

"Cabinet was also made to appreciate the implications of the sophisticated weapons - the sniper rifle - that was discovered in the arsenal of weapons seized by the Police and Cabinet's sentiments about those findings and their implications mirrored those of senior law enforcement officials who had earlier conceded that such tools and such implements were unusual in the hands of ordinary criminals and were most likely intended for use in the purposes of creating terror and terrorism," he said.

"Increasingly, the indiscriminate violence of the criminals was being demonstrated and now it would seem was being confirmed as not being really indiscriminate, but was being instituted to produce a reign of terror in Guyana and thus represents an attempt to make Guyana ungovernable," Luncheon added.

He also referred to the recent high-profile sniper case which rocked Washington DC, the capital of the United States of America.

"I'm certain you're all aware about the paralysis that descended on Metropolitan DC (Washington DC) recently over the outrages of what obviously seems to be a deranged person with appropriate training who unleashed a series of horrendous, unprovoked attacks on innocent individuals and led to the death of as many as 10 persons.

"And that is in a Tri-State area where, I'm led to believe, that resources - human, technical and otherwise - are lavish and bountiful and yet the weapon and the perpetrator was, in a matter of four to five weeks, able to hold that entire Tri-state area in bondage," Luncheon said.

"So these are some of the indications that were implicitly raised at Cabinet," he added.

The arsenal found by the Police during their operation in Georgetown Monday included:

** 13 firearms: one 9mm Highpoint Rifle, Model 995; one 12 Gauge Maverick Shotgun, Model 88; one 9mm Uzi, Model 61; two 7.62 x 51 mm FN Rifles; one 223 Ruger Rifle, Model AC 556; one 7.62 x 39 Model M70 Assault Rifle; two 270 Winchester Raptor Rifles with telescopic sight; two 9mm MAC 11 semi-automatic pistols; one 9mm Glock Pistol, Model 17; one 9mm Tanfoglio Pistol, Model TA 90.

** 45 magazines consisting of 33 M 70 magazines; eight FN Magazines; one 223 Ruger Magazine; one Glock Magazine; two 9mm MAC 11 magazines.

** Three fragmentation grenades.

** One flare.

** Ammunition - 2,778 rounds of .62 x 39; 68 rounds of 7.62 x 51; 103 rounds of .38 Special; one round of 380; 44 rounds of 9mm; 51 rounds 12 gauge and four rounds of 223 along with a suitcase containing 'channa' bombs and one salt bag with channa (chick pea).

Police said the arsenal was found in two `safe houses' used by bandits.

On the issue of recent kidnappings, Luncheon recalled that at an earlier news briefing, he had mentioned how peculiar these crimes are.

"Generally, in the run-of-the-mill crime, victims are often readily cooperative, if they are still alive, and they provide as much information as possible to law enforcement officials who are engaged in investigations..."

"...(but) kidnapping and extortions is a different kettle of fish (and) the law enforcement agencies have sensed a marked reluctance by the victims (such as city businessmen Bramhanand Nandalall and Kamal Seebarran) to provide such information about their kidnappers, the person or persons responsible for their extortions, and specifically with the way in which they have made their own responses", he said.

"Understandably, the victims avoid making these disclosures to the Police for fear of future or subsequent exposure to the wrath of the criminals and it is in that context that I must admit that coming from the very mouth of the kidnapped victims has been very little, and apart from brave eyewitnesses and hard detective work by our law enforcement agencies, much more information is not readily forthcoming and the victims in general are not very cooperative," he added.