Visa racket gang busted
-- Chinese nationals to be deported
Guyana Chronicle
May 18, 2007

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A GANG involved in visa racketeering has been nabbed by the Police and 13 Chinese nationals in custody are to be deported, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee announced yesterday.

He told a press briefing at his Georgetown office the gang was involved in accessing false Guyanese visas to enable Chinese nationals enter the country illegally, but the scam was recently detected at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.

He said the gang has been working in collaboration with some locals but indicated that they have not yet been identified.

However, Mr. Rohee explained, three other members of the gang are still at large and their capture will help the Police find leads on who are the locals involved.

When this happens, “we will let the chips fall where they may” and institute the full force of the law, he said.

Meanwhile, Rohee reported that arrangements are in place for introducing machine readable passports and a July deadline has been fixed but it could happen before then.

He said a team headed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ms. Angela Johnson, recently returned from Canada, where the machine readable passports are being produced, after overlooking the preparatory process and signing the documentation of acceptance.

The Home Affairs Minister feels the greatest challenge to be overcome in implementing the new type of passport is conducting an adequate media campaign to sensitise and educate the public on the matter.

In this regard, he said his ministry will embark soon on the campaign to provide the relevant information to the public in a timely manner.

Asked whether the cost of the new passports will be higher than the previous type, he said that at this stage he could not pronounce definitively on this.

Rohee also revealed that the postal service is being increasingly abused in the export of illegal drugs from Guyana and as such measures will be implemented to curb this practice. He, however, declined to provide details on the measures.

He noted that the use of the postal service in illegal drug export has been ongoing for a long time but in recent times the scale has been significantly upped, and in accordance with the policy of the government to block the channels of the illicit drug trade wherever it may surface, measures will be instituted in the postal service to nab those involved.

The minister also commended the work of the Joint Services in unearthing and destroying the illegal airstrip in Orealla, Berbice, and appealed to villagers throughout the country to become the “eyes and ears” of their communities.

He added that all those who do not want their communities to be tarnished should give information and cooperate with the security forces instead of colluding with those involved in illegal and criminal activities. (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL)