As mystery continues to surround the discovery of an illegal aircraft in North Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), President David Granger has said that hinterland communities must be protected from criminal elements transporting contraband items. The Head of State made these comments at the opening of the National Toshao’s Conference (NTC) on Monday, where he highlighted matters of national security, saying Guyana must take responsibility for protecting its hinterland from outside forces which may want to conduct illegal activities here.
“We have to take responsibility for our security because these transnational cartels do not wish us any good; they will destroy our households, families, communities. These criminal cartels will bring violence and death; they will suck our young people to criminality and inflict harm on our way of life,” he noted.
On Sunday, August 13, Police intercepted an illegal Beechcraft Kingair aircraft minutes after it landed. It is currently registered to Banco Brandesco – one of Brazil’s third largest banks. However, an official from the bank had said that while the financial institution does not own any planes, the aircraft is registered to the bank since the owner may have acquired a loan to purchase it.
Nevertheless, Government says it is treating the matter as a national security threat. President Granger told the toshaos that these very types of aircraft can transport prohibited substances to the hinterlands and observed that the authorities must do everything in its powers to put an end to it.
“We must work together to protect our hinterland and border communities from the threat of transnational criminal syndicates. We cannot have a situation in any region where a foreign aircraft lands and deposits contraband substances and no one saw or heard or knows what went on,” the President asserted.
During the search of the aircraft, several pieces of communication equipment, including cellular phones, flashlights, a quantity of dried ration, medical supplies and identification cards were discovered. The ID cards were later found to be that of a Venezuelan and a Brazilian.
Following the discovery of the plane, an extensive search was mounted by a Joint Services team for the men. F Division (Interior locations) Commander, Ravindradat Budhram noted that a search of the area unearthed three abandoned camps, in which canned food and other items had been found. Additionally, 16 ten-gallon containers, which are suspected to have contained aviation fuel, had also been discovered.
A mining company named Riwa SA Incorporated Investments and participants operates the aircraft and no trace of narcotic was found. When the plane was found, three men were reportedly seen running from the landed aircraft.
The plane’s discovery in the Santa Fe area came less than two weeks after an illegal airstrip was discovered. It was in early August that this airstrip had been unearthed about five kilometres West of Santa Fe, Rupununi, Region Nine, by members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) who were patrolling the area.
Inspections revealed several dug out trenches which were covered with black plastic and dried branches. Upon removing the plastic and branches, several items were found concealed in the holes including a chainsaw and fuel drums. In addition, a ¼ drum of aviation fuel was also found at the site. At least 12 abandoned camps were also found in close proximity of the airstrip. These camps had been reportedly used by farmers over a period of time.
Investigations into the discoveries are continuing.