CANU seized 1.1 tonnes ganja, 75kg cocaine seized so far for 2024

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Just under three months into 2024, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) has seized a startling 1.1 tonnes of marijuana and over 75 kilograms of cocaine from various operations across the country.Director of CANU, James Singh spoke with media operatives on Monday, and gave this breakdown. A majority of the marijuana is from the Andean region of South America that includes Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.

“We have over 75 kilos of cocaine and close to 1.1 tonnes of marijuana. Of the marijuana, about 90 per cent is foreign marijuana that came from the Andean region, known as “Creepy”,” Singh informed.

In contrast, CANU had seized approximately 1363.28 kilograms of narcotics over the course of 2023, and cannabis sativa (ganja) accounted for 94 per cent of the total seizure. From 18 operations conducted, 75.17 kilograms of cocaine were seized.

Meanwhile, Singh also responded to recent concerns that the increase in seizures is an indication that drugs are coming into Guyana, as he reminded that Guyana was a transshipment point. Consequently, he encouraged persons to share information, which can lead to the dismantling of such operations.

Director of CANU James Singh

“A lot of the narcotics coming in is going to other regions, both marijuana and cocaine. And sometimes we rely not only on the press but the public to share information. All too often, we arrest persons and those representing them are saying ‘don’t say anything, remain silent’. You can expect me to do my job when you’re also supposed to be helping us but then you tell your client or other members don’t say anything.”

“It’s their right, but, at the same time, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. So, we encourage as you guys just know, we encourage persons to call in and share information as opposed to saying don’t call, people will come after you. You have a right as a citizen to give information if it can help you live a safer life, safer community. After all, we’re looking at one safe Guyana,” the Director underscored.

Currently, there are four extradition requests from other countries for persons, who were arrested here by CANU for involvement in drug trafficking, trade or other narcotics-related offences.However, Guyana is taking the lead to process these persons here through the judicial system before they are handed over to overseas counterparts.

“We have persons arrested that the US had expressed interest in and that is still ongoing, because their matters are still ongoing here. Before anyone leaves Guyana, we will put them through the judicial process here and when we’re finished with them, whoever is interested, they can then apply for them. We have to demonstrate that we are doing this on our own, again with the support of our foreign counterparts, but persons must know what it is like to go to jail first here in Guyana,” he explained.

The CANU Head revealed that persons who have been recently arrested for drug offences here would have also been of interest to other territories or were linked to previous shipments within the last two years in overseas territories.

Drug busts

For 2024, there were several notable busts which led to the interception of large quantities of drugs.

Last month, more than 100 pounds of cocaine were discovered at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), for which Gavin Anthony McKie and Tyrone Hamilton were wanted for questioning. The latter turned himself in days later. However, his accomplice is still at large, according to Singh.

“We’re still waiting on him to come in. We understand that he’s outside of Guyana. We’re working with our colleagues to try and arrest him,” he indicated.

Initial reports indicated that CANU agents stationed at the CJIA observed two suspects retrieving four duffle bags thrown over the airport fence by an unidentified male. Upon interception, a search of the duffle bags led to the discovery of 64 brick-like parcels suspected to contain cocaine.

The suspects, identified as 26-year-old Travis Sealey, a shift leader at New Timehri Handling Service (NTHS), and 20-year-old Koby Bakker, a ground security coordinator at Secure Innovations and Concepts (SIC), both residents of Timehri, EBD, were apprehended and escorted to CANU Headquarters, along with the suspected narcotics.Subsequent testing confirmed the presence of cocaine. The parcels weighed approximately 71.2 kilograms, with an estimated street value of $64,000,000 locally.

CANU stated that the narcotics were intended for transport on a British Airways flight bound for St Lucia, with a subsequent connection to the United Kingdom. The potential street value of the seized narcotics had they reached their intended destination, was estimated at over £3,000,000, equivalent to approximately G$679,000,000.

Ranks also recently made a major drug bust on the Essequibo Coast, Region Two when they unearthed 660 brick-like parcels of foreign marijuana, commonly known as “Creepy”.

Reports are that the ranks found the drug at Fisher Village, Essequibo Coast after they observed a multi-coloured speedboat operated by two individuals. According to CANU, the ranks pursued the boat, causing the individuals to run aground, but they subsequently made good their escape on foot.