Organized crime controls relations between criminal enterprises
Guyana Chronicle
June 9, 2003

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The crime wave has now been sustained for nearly a year, driving numerous adjustments people have had to make in their lives. However, increased security measures and interventions, on a consistent basis in the last year, have resulted in some abatement of criminality in high-crime neighborhoods.

In spite of these security concerns and uneasiness in daily living, the Guyanese people must be applauded for staying the course, enabling the economy to show a fair amount of progression.

Some economic indicators in 2002
In response to those who think the country is in economic crisis, let’s review some specific economic indicators. Real GDP increased by 1.1% in 2002. Inflation was kept at single digit at 6.1%. Under the balance of payments, the current account deficit was reduced from $128.8M in 2001 to $106.7M in 2002. The Guyana dollar is relatively stable against the US dollar. This currency stability was due to lower demand influence that may be explained through increased flows from the export market, higher flows through the Cambio market, and a decline in the demand for speculative purposes. Interest rate payments on the domestic debt were reduced because of lower interest costs on maturing treasury bills. The interest rate showed a downward trend.

The central government’s cash performance continues to show great strength, as revenue collections outmatched expenditure incurrence. The World Bank Group today places the per capita GDP at about US$900.

Over the last year, a tidy sum of US$126.6 million was injected into the economy via business ventures. These investments created more than 3,000 jobs through 96 projects. In an UNCTAD Survey 2000, Guyana ranked 19th globally for direct investment yields. From 1988 through 1990, UNCTAD placed Guyana at 72nd during the ERP period. Preliminary estimates in 2002 placed the total foreign debt at US$1.2 billion, reduced from US$2.1 billion. Due to adequate management of the debt burden, today, more funds are available for social services. Today, education constitutes 17.2% of the Budget and health 8% of the Budget.

These are significant developments compared to the entire social services consuming a mere 8% in 1992. A country in economic crisis would experience enormous difficulty in improving, however gradual, its economic indicators.

The economy, therefore, demonstrated a fair amount of success in 2002.

Multiple variables Notwithstanding these economic successes, we still do have a serious upsurge in crime that the joint security forces currently are aggressively addressing to reach a final solution. Some recent successful confrontations of criminal activities have been achieved, showing some decline in the criminality unleashed a year ago. There can be no let up now if we are to sustain and consolidate the gains in nation building.

In any case, the first step for crime fighters must involve identifying the nature of the crime. This process of identification incorporates inclusion of a variety of predisposing and contributory variables in the crime-fighting equation. Some of these variables may be organized crime, a Regional crime connection, a political link to criminality, and the incitement role of the media. In this part, we want to focus on organized crime.

Organized crime When we talk about organized crime, the images of the ‘Family’, ‘Mafia’, or ‘Cosa Nostra’ appear. As applied here, organized crime uses a national and international network. Again, the many execution-style killings over the last year may have to be perceived as targeted murders in the killing fields that signal the increasing presence of organized crime. Organized crime is bigger than the local police or military. Organized crime has global roots. In fact, Reid puts it this way: “organized crime is the highly structured association of people who bind together to make large profits through illegal and legal means while utilizing graft and corruption in the criminal justice arena to protect their activities from criminal prosecution.” In effect, organized crime strives to always maximize profits in any transaction. Therefore, it would seem as if organized crime is a business, and, indeed, it is.

Organized crime is the work of a group that controls relations between criminal enterprises engaged in narcotics trafficking, prostitution, gambling, racketeering, fraud, and the infiltration of authentic business.

Reid shows that the differences between routine violence and property crimes, and organized crime, are methods used to commit the crimes.

Organized crime in which drug trafficking is an important business product is related to racketeering, systematic extortion, and money laundering.

Racketeering is an organized conspiracy to extort or coerce through force or threats. Extortion is the acquisition of property from another person through illegal application of actual or threatened coercion, fear or violence. Money laundering is the hiding of the presence, source, and disposition of money extracted from unlawful sources. In other words, illegal money has to be laundered clean before it can publicly be exchanged for goods and services. Organized crime distributes territory, fixes prices for illegal goods and services, and would even perform the arbitrator’s role in internal disputes. We must understand, too, that the operations of organized crime are increasingly global, especially in the area of drug trafficking and money laundering, and Guyana currently operating as drug a transshipment route makes this point all the more pertinent.

Incorporating these illegal activities, the United States President’s Commission Report, 1967, refers to organized crime as: “In many ways organized crime is the most sinister kind of crime in America. The men who control it have become rich and powerful by encouraging the needy to gamble, by luring the troubled to destroy themselves with drugs, by extorting the profits of honest and hardworking businessmen…by maiming or murdering those who oppose them, by bribing those who are sworn to destroy them.”

Attempts to curb the illegal drug trade have shown that these criminal organizations may very well have partnerships with similar type of criminal organizations in other countries, or may be a part of global crime cartels. Methods used to smuggle illegal drugs into Guyana include the use of courier, shipping containers, aircrafts, boats, and motor vehicles, etc. As in some other countries, not only adults but teens and preteens are promoting an expansion in this illegal drug trafficking trade. It may very well be that a handful of Guyana’s teens and preteens may soon invade the payroll of organized crime, that is, if they are not already there!!

Drug trafficking is primed with violence. Indeed, violence is applied, according to Reid, to terminate competition, increase markets and threaten anyone who impedes these crimes. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the US, “Violence substitutes for legal contract enforcement in the illegal drug market.”

Illegal drug traffickers operating within the shield of organized crime also attempt to corrupt public officials, including government and opposition officials. A few examples follow: taking bribes to tamper with evidence; selling information on imminent police raids and police information; and extorting money from drug traffickers in return for failure to arrest them. In this drug trafficking climate, police are at maximum risk due to their power of arrest.

The race factor and crime Not long ago, the fact that the largest cocaine bust in Guyana, 6,940 pounds, aboard MV Danielsen demonstrated the immense technical attention paid to concealing this illicit drug, indicates that Guyana is a major transshipment route for the international drug trade. Some execution-style killings are generally selective and targeted and must be understood within the context of global crime cartels. To limit the explanation of these serious violent crimes to the race factor demonstrates minimum understanding of targeted killings and the global roots of crime, and would incorrectly reorient the local criminal justice system on to a path that de-monitors organized crime. In a small society as Guyana, organized crime can be quite visible, as seen in some recent gruesome killings. The race card will not work here, as it will lead us in the wrong direction in the pursuit of final solutions to further decrease criminal activities. If Guyanese believe that criminalization is limited to the racial scope and racial disposition of crime in Guyana, then they are allowing the current violent cancerous organized criminalization to go unchecked. This all-pervasive criminalization is not tinged by race but by the self-perpetuating conspiracy that functions for profit and power, and that endeavors to obtain immunity from the law through fear, corruption, and murder. This is organized crime in action and it is only one of the many variables in the current crime-fighting equation.

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