National Drug Plan approved by Cabinet

Clement Rohee 2Georgetown: With Guyana holding a troubling record on drug trafficking, the long-anticipated National Drug Strategic Master Plan has been approved by the Cabinet and is currently being printed, according to Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.

The Minister further disclosed that the document is expected to be launched sometime in mid-November.

Previously, Rohee has stated that financial resources will have to be made available to the various Government agencies and departments that will be playing an active role in the implementation of the National Drug Strategic Master Plan.

The National Drug Strategic Master Plan comes at a time when calls are being made from all stakeholders for Government to implement measures to curb the increasing narcotic trafficking activities in Guyana.

Heavier penalties

The final draft of the master plan was completed by the taskforce. This document will empower the necessary agencies to tackle the drug trade head-on, and, more so, stipulate heavier penalties for those who are found culpable of trafficking narcotics.

Since the previous National Drug Strategic Master Plan expired in 2009, there has been talk about crafting a new plan. The last master plan was unveiled in 2005 and lasted for five years. The $650 million plan comprises extensive measures to eliminate the scourge of narco-trafficking and its spin-off effects.

The Home Affairs Minister and, to a greater extent, the Government, came under fire after it was revealed that Guyana has links to the Mexican and Italian mafias.

In August last, during a search of one of the creeks branching off from the Waini River, a self-propelling semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel was discovered about two miles in, along with a camp consisting of three structures: the accommodation, workshop and generator areas.

Transporting narcotics

Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), James Singh had told the media that their intelligence is confident that the 65-foot long submersible vessel was constructed in Guyana since there were materials and information gathered at the camp that suggested same.

Additionally, Singh stated that it has been built for the sole purpose of transporting narcotics from Guyana across the Atlantic Ocean, most likely heading to Europe or Africa.

Over the years, concerns have been expressed by the Opposition political parties as they continuously reiterated calls for the National Drug Strategic Master Plan to be reinstated. Opposition Leader David Granger, as recently as last Friday, highlighted the importance of such a plan to curb the illicit activity.

In the recent National Drug Report for 2012, compiled by the Taskforce on Narcotic Drugs and Illicit Weapons, it was stated that CANU had intercepted 103.66 kilograms of cocaine valued some $93 million and 111.564kg of cannabis (ganja) valued in excess of $20 million.

During this period, 33 cases were made out and 36 persons charged. Further, the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Enforcement Unit seized 561.78kg of cocaine, valued $504.9 million, for which two cases were made out and two persons were charged.

In total, 151 people were charged for cocaine trafficking and/or consumption, in a total of 139 cases.