The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) is making significant strides in combatting illegal narcotics, according to CANU’s Director James Singh, who said these efforts have resulted in denting the drug trade both locally and internationally.
During the Home Affairs Ministry’s review and 2024 projection, an exercise held on Thursday, Singh expressed these sentiments and disclosed that, during the 2023 period, CANU had recorded five international seizures — an achievement he described as a testament to the strategic measures being implemented at the various ports of entry countrywide.
The measures being implemented, according to Singh, are making it more difficult for narcotics to be transported. “What we’re doing here in Guyana is making an impact (on) the drug trade…The fact that we have seized a lot more drugs destined for overseas, be it marijuana and cocaine in different regions of the country, is an indication that the systems we have in place are working, especially the partnerships that we have with local law enforcement agencies here in Guyana is making a difference,” Singh declared.
He said further that CANU had assisted in overseas operations that had led to the confiscation of narcotics being transported from Latin America and the Caribbean region.
“This is a demonstration that our role in the narcotics fight — not just here in Guyana, but internationally — is making a significant impact,” he emphasised.
The marijuana being destroyed
The CANU Director has attributed the unit’s success to support provided by the Home Affairs Ministry, and by extension the Government, as well as through partnerships with local and international law enforcement agencies. He added that engagements with President Dr Irfaan Ali have also proven fruitful with training opportunities for CANU ranks.
“I would say that the relationship is a lot stronger than before; not just based on what we’re doing, but all the commitment of the Government of Guyana in fighting the narcotics trade,” he declared.
However, Minister Robeson Benn has noted that, while CANU is functioning remarkably, there is room for improvement. “We have to grow and make bigger and larger efforts at CANU. They are also involved in the question of firearm seizures…On the whole, we are pleased with what the unit is doing,” the minister has posited.
Permanent Secretary Andre Ally has added that, with the success recorded, the ministry has seen it fit to invest heavily in the unit. To this end, the sum of $827.4 million has been earmarked in budget 2024 for the drug enforcement body.
This sum will advance the construction of a new headquarters on Homestretch Avenue, and acquire additional vehicles, tactical gear, and modern technology to detect narcotics at the various ports of entry.
In 2023, CANU cleared approximately 1363.28 kilograms of narcotics, consisting of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and hashish totalling $461.5 million.
Cannabis was the most confiscated drug, accounting for 94 per cent of the total narcotics seized for the year, with approximately 73 separate seizures amounting to 1,287.88 kilograms.
There were 18 seizures of cocaine, amounting to 75.17 kilogrammes; three seizures of ecstasy, totalling 0.124 kilograms; and one seizure of hashish, amounting to 0.102 kilograms.
The seized cannabis was valued at $386.3 million, while the cocaine was val