Did our police play a role in the recent drug bust of a Guyanese ring?
Stabroek News
March 10, 2004

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Dear Editor,

Did the 75 million-US dollar-a-year Guyanese run drug ring busted last week by US authorities in New York, involve collaborative input from the Guyana Government through the Guyana Police Force?

Apart from being shocked by the scale of the bust, which constituted the major news accounts in America, I did not read nor did I hear anything in the news accounts of the role, if any, of the Guyanese authorities in this "Operation Direct Connection."

I saw two photographs on your Internet version of Stabroek News, one with individual pictures of the alleged conspirators alongside a diagram showing the drugs and money flows, and another with narcotics and NYPD officers standing over the cocaine and cash seized during a raid that was part of the bust, but nothing at all about the Guyana law authorities, especially given that addresses in Guyana were cited as places where some of the suspects live.

And if local police were in on this "Operation Direct Connection," then it is only fair to both the Guyana Government and the Guyana Police Force that they be credited with making this bust such a heralded success.

If local authorities were not involved, then this should raise red flags for the Guyana Government that its American counterpart may be growing duly concerned about its ability or willingness to help prevent Guyana from becoming a major conduit for illicit drugs being shipped to America. Further, government has to studiously avoid giving the impression that this is an American problem to be taken care of strictly by American authorities.

I do agree that if there is no demand, there will be no need for supply - a basic economic principle that has long been applied to the illicit drug trade business. Still, I get the impression that the United States government is doing what it can to greatly reduce, if not eliminate, demand by way of a combination of measures, including imprisonment, education, and rehabilitation. But that approach is not enough, so it decided to go to the sources of the drug supply, which took it to various countries, but especially in the Caribbean, Central and South America where geography makes smuggling easier.

It has even engaged governments to help monitor, with a view to curbing, the trafficking, and here is where a new problem has arisen. While some governments have been doing well, other governments seem either unable or unwilling to effectively block the channels created in their countries that facilitate drugs reaching the United States.

Haiti became one of those countries where the once democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide appeared not only unable, but almost unwilling, to stop drug traffickers from landing their drug-laden aircraft on specially prepared and maintained drag strips or using drug-laden high-speed boats to enter and leave Haiti. In fact, surveillance reports indicate that members of Haiti's skeletal police force, the Coast Guard and even the rebels who ousted Aristide, were on the drug barons' payroll.

From the American perspective, Guyana's police force, which came under severe criticism for extra-judicial killings and for having members involved in illegal death squad operations, should be focusing attention on drug trafficking activities and be able to make big arrests in Guyana.

Indeed, there has been the occasional traveler who was caught and duly punished for attempting to leave the main airport with small amounts of illicit drugs.

But how does anyone explain a 75 million-US dollar-a-year drug ring operating out of Guyana that the local police apparently did not detect and stop, but yet ended up being busted by US authorities in New York?

I am probably one of the few Guyanese who quietly hope that Guyana's police indeed were collaborating with the US authorities, but, for intelligence reasons, this was never borne out in the news, thereby creating the false impression the Guyana Government is not doing enough through its police force to detect and block the flow of illict drugs from Guyana to the United Sates.

Guyana is already said to be second to Haiti in several negative areas of socioeconomic development, so it is imperative for government to ensure Guyana is not second to Haiti as a major conduit of illicit drugs being shipped to the United States.

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin

Editor's note:

We are sending a copy of this letter to Commissioner of Police Winston Felix for any comments he may wish to make.