Ma­jor gains likely in fight against drugs

-out­go­ing US en­voy

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Out­go­ing United States Am­bas­sador to Guyana Perry Hol­loway on Tues­day said that over the next two to three years Guyana should see bet­ter re­sults from both lo­cal law en­force­ment and their col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­ter­na­tional au­thor­i­ties in the fight against the drug trade.

“I think, my gut feel­ing is, that things have got­ten a lit­tle bet­ter as far as the big, big [drug] ship­ments go­ing through Guyana. But, quite frankly, in some ways, other than what we heard from jour­nal­ists, like you guys… Guyana was the black hole. No one had any clue what was go­ing through, where it was go­ing, and how it was go­ing, [and] who was do­ing it. So now, af­ter three years with 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 even more pos­i­tive ac­tions com­ing from your law en­force­ment en­ti­ties and them co­op­er­at­ing with in­ter­na­tional law en­force­ment,” Hol­loway told re­porters dur­ing an exit in­ter­view.

The United States’ Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (DEA) es­tab­lished an of­fice here in 2016, one year af­ter Hol­loway be­gan his three-year tour of duty. It fol­lowed years of failed at­tempts to es­tab­lish a DEA of­fice, for which the for­mer PPP/C gov­ern­ment faced nu­mer­ous crit­i­cisms.

Hol­loway, who has over 15 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on counter-nar­cotics pro­grammes in var­i­ous coun­tries, in­clud­ing Colom­bia, had said in his first in­ter­view with this news­pa­per, in 2015, that joint ef­forts by the United States and Guyana to bring down drug lords and traf­fick­ers would not be a “quick-fix” and could take years.

He also said that although Amer­ica’s lead­ing anti-nar­cotics agency was about to have a firm foot­ing here, it had to be com­ple­mented by po­lit­i­cal will and a con­certed ef­fort of the cit­i­zenry.

Hol­loway re­it­er­ated his ini­tial po­si­tion, say­ing that pa­tience and lots of work is needed to bring down crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions and drug king­pins. In this re­gard, he is op­ti­mistic that joint ef­forts be­tween his coun­try and Guyana’s law en­force­ment agen­cies will yield pos­i­tive re­sults in the near fu­ture. He said that while it was dif­fi­cult for him to gauge the suc­cess of the DEA’s pres­ence here “in a con­crete an­a­lyt­i­cal way,” as it is still very early, “One of the things I said when I got here is 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 week,” he noted.

As he high­lighted the suc­cesses of the DEA’s pres­ence here, Hol­loway cited the re­cent ex­tra­di­tion of Guyanese hote­lier Sherv­ing­ton ‘Big Head’ Lovell, who was held in Ja­maica, fol­low­ing an elab­o­rate oper­a­tion span­ning sev­eral coun­tries and where the DEA played a ma­jor role.

“The DEA, I think, has done a great job in here. They are not po­lice­men, they are li­ai­son; they are here to share in­for­ma­tion, de­velop in­for­ma­tion, talk to peo­ple. We did have a re­cent case of Mr. [Lovell]. He is ac­tu­ally in the US [now] but that came about as in­for­ma­tion de­vel­oped here be­tween DEA, CANU, and the Guyana Po­lice Force. 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 said.

Hol­loway added that the US has al­ways known that Guyana was used as a trans­ship­ment point for the drug trade, but there was not enough con­crete ev­i­dence to get con­vic­tions be­fore. “We knew be­fore Guyana was a trans­ship­ment point, we knew cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions were op­er­at­ing in Guyana, just as the Guyanese per­sons knew. But it is hard to prove. So, 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,” he said.

Hol­loway noted that he has seen no ev­i­dence that trans­ship­ment has got­ten worse since he ar­rived but he noted that it con­tin­ues to be a prob­lem for the South Amer­i­can con­ti­nent as a whole. “I must tell you that it hasn’t ended; 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; most coun­tries in the re­gion are… Guyana is so large and so un­der-pop­u­lated. I mean, there are so many places you can slip 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,” he noted.

Ex­tra­di­tions

With United States-based Guyanese mur­der ac­cused Mar­cus Bis­ram ex­pected to be ex­tra­dited to Guyana and fugitive mur­der ac­cused Troy Thomas ex­pected to be ex­tra­dited to the United States, Hol­loway said an in­crease in such cases is also likely.

Bis­ram has pur­sued all le­gal av­enues to avoid be­ing ex­tra­dited to Guyana to an­swer a charge of mur­der over the killing of Num­ber 70 Vil­lage car­pen­ter Faiyaz Narine­datt. Bis­ram and five oth­ers have been charged with the mur­der. Po­lice have al­leged that he pro­cured and com­manded Or­lando Dickie, Radesh Motie, Dio­dath Datt, Harri Paul Parsram, and Ni­ran Ya­coob to mur­der Narine­datt be­tween Oc­to­ber 31st and Novem­ber 1st, 2016, at Num­ber 70 Vil­lage, Ber­bice.

Mean­while, Thomas, of South Ozone Park, Queens, New York, USA, who was ap­pre­hended in March this year by ranks of the Guyana Po­lice Force, is wanted for al­legedly mur­der­ing Keith Frank on De­cem­ber 11th, 2011. He had ap­pealed to the High Court to have a stay in his ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing but in June of this year lost that chal­lenge and he was re­cently or­dered to be ex­tra­dited.

Like nar­cotics cases, Hol­loway said, ex­tra­di­tions take time as per­sons will try every le­gal route to re­main in the coun­try they are in. He cited the le­gal ma­noeu­vring by Bis­ram and Thomas and lamented that he could not see the ar­rival or de­par­ture of ei­ther as he leaves this week­end. “But I think it sends a mes­sage to ev­ery­one that not ev­ery­one gets away with it. There are peo­ple who get away with it but not for­ever. There are peo­ple who reg­u­larly try to flee Guyana and go to the States or some­where else. If the re­quest is done in the proper way, with the right le­gal doc­u­ments at­tached to it, and we think there is the like­li­hood there is a fair trial in the coun­try re­quest­ing that, it is likely that they will be ex­tra­dited. I think once those two guys go back and forth, I think you will see more in both direc­tions,” he added.

Asked why ex­tra­di­tions from the US seemed nonex­is­tent be­fore his ten­ure here, Hol­loway said, “I wasn’t here be­fore, so I can’t re­ally say why. I can tell you that when I got here, one of the tools that I saw very use­ful in deal­ing with transna­tional crime though was the ex­tra­di­tion of the bad guys out of Colom­bia to the states. The worst thing for them was to go to a US jail. That doesn’t ex­plain why we are send­ing Guyanese back but ex­tra­di­tion is only done through a bi­lat­eral treaty which we have had with the United King­dom be­fore Guyana be­came in­de­pen­dent. When a new coun­try is formed it takes on the treaty obli­ga­tions of its mother coun­try, for lack of a bet­ter word. So that treaty is still valid but I wanted to make sure that we treated it as a true bi­lat­eral treaty.”

He added, “We have cer­tainly made our ef­fort.”

Perry Hol­loway

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