As law enforcement officers ramp up the fight against the narco-trade, recent Police statistics have revealed that 421 persons were charged with trafficking in narcotics offences.
These numbers, for the period January- October 2017, were revealed by acting Crime Chief Paul Williams. Of the 421, 310 persons were charged with marijuana offences while 111 individuals were charged for cocaine-related offences.
The statistics showed that the 310 marijuana possession cases reflected a decrease of 171 cases as the corresponding figure during the same period in 2016 was 481. In 2015, 503 persons were charged; in 2014, 454 and in 2013, 593.
For cocaine cases, there was an increase of 44 per cent, as the 111 cases filed this year reflected a spike up from 49 cases up to October last year. In 2015, there were 132; in 2014, 111 and in 2013, 141 cases.
The acting Crime Chief in his analysis suggested that success in cracking down on the narcotics trade was owed to increased collaborations between the Police Force and the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU).
“Because of the collaborative effort between the Police and CANU [and] numerous training, this would have made the detection rate very high. The couriers may have run out of style in terms of how they are able to move,” Williams observed.
Self-confessed drug lord Barry Dataram was convicted and sentenced to spend 60 months (five years) in jail and fined $164,268,000 after he was found guilty, in absentia, of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking in September 2016.
On April 16, 2015, at 661 Fourth Avenue, Block X Diamond, East Bank Demerara, Police found Dataram and others with 60.840 kilograms of cocaine in their possession for the purpose of trafficking.
The others, including his reputed wife, Anjanie Boodnarine, were all freed. Dataram is also currently serving time for additional crimes, including illegal ammunition possession, passport forgery, absconding from the law and illegal departure.
CANU agents in recent months have increased patrols on land and on the country’s waterways and ports, in efforts to reduce trafficking.
Meanwhile, many advocacy groups are still calling for decriminalisation of small amounts of marijuana and for Magistrates to impose alternative sentencing, including community service.
It has been observed that such measures could assist in reducing the prison population.