CANU says stepping up efforts to put dent in drug trade

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Deputy Head of CANU, Lesley Ramlall

The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) on Thursday revealed that it has recorded a significant increase in the amount of cannabis seized in 2018 when compared to the previous year.

According to statistics provided by the drug enforcement body, the unit seized 171.58 kgs cocaine, 543.256 kgs cannabis, 532.8 grams ecstasy, 304 grams of heroin, 100 grams of crystal methamphetamine and 39 grams of cannabis in 2018 against the 291.089 kgs cocaine, 123.799 kgs cannabis and 1.602 kgs of heroin seized in 2017.

The unit stated that there was a vast increase in cannabis seized by CANU during 2018, with the spike seen mostly during the June to August period which coincides with the summer vacation.

CANU’s Deputy Head, Lesley Ramlall, speaking with the media, related that 61 persons were charged for narcotics-related cases in 2018 with only 14 convictions. Nevertheless, he reported that many other cases are pending while adding that the body will continue to step up efforts to put a dent in the drug trade.

Meanwhile, in relation to cases that CANU recorded last year, Ramlall explained that the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is looking at some since they revolved around money laundering.

“Currently there are eight…matters that were handed over to SOCU from 2017 to date for money laundering…. As it relates to Shervington Lovell, I know that currently SOCU was tasked to look at that with the seizure of his assets, we have managed to identify most of his assets and those were handed over to SOCU and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). So I know they were tasked to deal with that”, Lovell added.

Meanwhile, with regard to CANU’s seizure of vehicles that belong to drug traffickers, Ramlall added that this remains part of CANU’s job among other things.

Ramlall admitted that most of the cases are interlinked to money laundering and as such, it is necessary for CANU to work with various agencies.

Ramlall believes that based on their intelligence gathering, no longer are foreign nationals prepared to hand over narcotics to their Guyanese counterparts as was traditionally done.

He explained that the foreign nationals are now bringing the narcotics and working alongside their local counterparts to smuggle same out of the country.

This development, he noted, certainly poses a higher degree of risks for drug enforcement officers and other law enforcement agencies. He noted that with this new development, they anticipate foreigners importing arms and ammunition and may very well start retaliating once intercepted.