More dents in local drug network to come – outgoing US Ambassador

first_imgWhile positing that a lot more work needs to be done, outgoing United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, has lauded efforts by drug enforcement agencies, both local and foreign, for trying to put a dent in the illegal narcotics trade in Guyana.Being positioned on the South American continent with strong ties to the Caribbean region, Guyana has long been identified as a transshipment point for major drug trafficking activities. It was against this backdrop that the US established a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office here.Ambassador Holloway had played a critical role in the setting up of the DEA office here, which was done in February 2016 – less than five months after his arrival in Guyana.During a recent interview with a group of local journalists ahead of his formal departure on December 9, after serving his three-year tenure, Ambassador Holloway asserted that it was too early to gage the success of the DEA here but noted that more positive results can be expected in the coming years.“… The investigation of narcotics crime and the related crime of money laundering, these investigations take years and not weeks or months. So if you’re going to bring down an organisation or a kingpin type person, you don’t do that in a week or two weeks.”He noted that the DEA has done a great job in Guyana.“They are not Policemen, they are liaison, they are here to share information, develop information, talk to people… Now after three years with the DEA here, we are beginning to develop some stuff. But I think in the next two or three years, you are going to see a lot more positive actions coming from your law enforcement entities and them cooperating with international law enforcement,” the US Diplomat stated.One of those developments the former Ambassador spoke about is the arrest of Guyanese hotelier, Shervington “Big Head” Lovell, who was arrested in Jamaica last month for narcotics trafficking. He was recently extradited to the US where he faced additional charges.According to reports, Lovell, who is the owner of Hotel Tower on Main Street, Georgetown, was arraigned before a Magistrate in a New York Court and pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to violate Maritime Drug Enforcement Law.Following months of investigation and intelligence gathering, the US issued an arrest warrant for the Guyanese businessman in August. However, his detainment was strategic since authorities were monitoring his movements over the past months, which saw him meeting with associates in both Georgetown and Jamaica, as they allegedly planned a cocaine shipment to The Netherlands.Court documents from the US revealed Lovell allegedly sought help on how to launder money from The Netherlands, since he had reportedly done so from the US and Canada. It was the first time Lovell was attempting to pursue such via the European country.Nevertheless, Lovell’s arrest, Ambassador Holloway posited, was as a result of collaboration between the DEA office and local law enforcement agencies such as the Guyana Police Force and the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU).“It just so happens he was arrested in Jamaica but there was a lot of reasons for that. He was meeting up with some other guys so it was a way to get everybody in one place at one time. That has been a small success story,” he noted.According to the outgoing US Diplomat, he has not seen any evidence to show that transshipment has gotten worst during the three years he has been in Guyana. However, he pointed out that the fight against this scourge of narco-trafficking has not ended.“It is illegal so they don’t tell you how much is shipping through or not shipping through… [But] there is still drugs shipping through Guyana, there is drugs shipping through every country in South America. So Guyana is not alone in being a transshipment point,” he said.Holloway went on to note that local authorities are working hard in trying to do whatever they can with the limited resources they have. Against this backdrop, he posited that more needs to be done to curb narco-trafficking activities, especially those that use the country as a transshipment point.“Guyana is so large and so under populated. I mean, there are so many places you can [go] in and out if you have the money and resources. And these guys are well funded and they don’t have to play by the rules. I think, my gut feeling is that things have gotten a little better as far as the big, big shipments going through Guyana,” the US Diplomat stated.Asked by Guyana Times whether the DEA Office has been able to tap into the drug network that it suspected was here, the outgoing Ambassador explained that while they knew of certain individuals and organisations operating in Guyana, this is hard to prove.“[But] by coming here, we gathered a lot more information on those organisations and individuals. We have been working closely and can actually share information that we have with the Police and CANU. I think the next three years you are going to see a little bit of an acceleration of activity. Not because people were not working hard, but eventually this information reached a point where all of a sudden, it can be tied together and something can be done,” Ambassador Holloway stated. (Vahnu Manikchand)last_img read more