HomeNewsBriefGuyana Call for Help Shows Limited Capacity to Combat Drug Threat
BRIEF

Guyana Call for Help Shows Limited Capacity to Combat Drug Threat

CARIBBEAN / 18 FEB 2014 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Authorities in Guyana have called on international law enforcement bodies to assist them with investigations in the wake of a transnational drug bust, in a move demonstrating the country's limited capacity to combat a growing organized crime problem.

According to Caribbean360, a case implicating a Guyanese shipping company in cocaine trafficking has prompted Guyanese President Donald Ramotar to seek foreign assistance in fully exploring the extent of local involvement in the network.

The report comes less than a week after news broke of a billion dollar drug trafficking network involving factions of the Italian and Italian-American mafias working with Guyana-based Mexican criminals to traffic drugs to North America via Europe. The New Sococo Enterprise was found to be involved in the case, less than two years after a shipment sent by the company to Malaysia was found to have $7 million of liquid cocaine hidden inside.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Caribbean

While two Sococo employees were charged in the wake of the 2012 case, Managing Director Manjula Brijmohan told Starbroek News that full inspections of her facilities by local law enforcement yielded no evidence and proper checks were carried out before any load was shipped out.

InSight Crime Analysis

Guyana's geographical location and financial instability make it an ideal base of operations for organized crime. Located in northeast South America, it sits across the Atlantic Ocean from key West African transit countries, as well as offering one of the shortest routes to Europe. In recent years, drug trafficking activity in the country has become notable -- the US State Department reported $42 million of cocaine was seized there in 2011.

As the calls for international assistance in the current case suggest, the country is ill-equipped to face the growing organized crime challenge alone.

According to the US State Department's 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the country has inadequate resources to maintain effective security, resulting in poorly monitored ports and porous land borders. While the report highlights a number of efforts by Guyanese authorities to tackle drug trafficking, it also notes a lack of arrests, and previous reports have underscored a lack of political will to target the challenge.

Though Brijmohan's denial of culpability may seem an obvious response to the accusations, the common use of so-called "gancho ciego" ("rip on, rip off") -- whereby containers are tampered with at sea or as they await export -- at ports elsewhere in the region makes it feasible the operation was the work of corrupt port officials or other elements from outside the company.

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