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Cocaine, money laundering and politics in Guyana

June 1, 2013 Leave a comment
May 31, 2013 | By KNews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 

 Here is the most graphic fact that no international expert on drug trafficking can ignore about Guyana. Not one, I repeat, not one of the super-rich traffickers has been charged much less pass through a court trial. Not one, I repeat not even one of the most conspicuous money-launderers has even been charged, much less face a court hearing.

Contrast this lack of action on the drug front with the following facts. Dozens of persons are either on remand or in jail for incest; dozens of persons are either on remand or in jail for domestic abuse. Citizens in this country get hauled before the courts for all kinds of criminal violations, but the washers of money and the cocaine owners remain untouched. Is there an explanation? Yes, and it is a simple one.

People in Guyana get prosecuted for a silly, unimportant thing like cross-dressing but somehow the law misses out on the drug lords and the washing machine owners who launder money. Even the importation of squibs gets more police attention. Last year Christmas, KN sports journalist Rawle Welch and I were in Charlestown heading toward KN offices when we saw a huge commotion in the street. A semi-homeless guy had sold squibs to an undercover policeman.

So why are the washers of money and the cocaine traders untouchable? Because politics is the intersection. The drug lords have powerful political connections, and the police are fully conscious that the untouchables must not be touched. It looks like the Americans are finally awakened from sleeping in that large edifice on Young Street opposite the seawall.

The American reticence on drug trafficking in Guyana has caused widespread consternation among political observers. How could the Americans be so blind to the political angles? It had to be the sea breeze that has induced sleep over the past ten years.
The American Ambassador told the media that even if Guyana is given an extension to comply with money-laundering operations by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force at their meeting in Nicaragua, there still may be sanctions against Guyana, because there has been no successful prosecution of money launderers. The Ambassador must be saying to himself; “God, not even one.”

One of the most barefaced aspects of governmental inaction against the cocaine business in this country is the acceptance by the political authorities and the police of targeting the couriers rather than the bosses. The couriers plead guilty and out of fear for their lives, they endure their four-year incarceration. Research would show many of these messengers are ordinary folks without any kind of wealth.

This columnist and another media colleague did an investigation into the assets of some of these messengers. One of the persons we looked at was the employee of Mr. Gerry Gouveia. After he was charged, Mr. Gouveia set up a committee to investigate how his employee managed to avoid detection by his company’s mechanism. A lawyer told me that Mr. Gouveia was being flippant and funny when he chose a very young lawyer with no experience to head the inquiry.

The attorney told me the young man was chosen because of his name only – James Bond.
I was laughing my head off. I did a column on the issue after Mr. Gouveia’s employee was arrested and the committee of Bond and a funny gentleman named Roshan Khan was set up. And though I wrote that the composition of the committee was unusual, it never occurred to me that Gouveia may have indeed been cynical in that he chose Bond because he is named after the world’s most admired and successful secret agents.

My research showed that almost ninety-nine percent of the couriers are poor guys trying to make a buck or two. One of them said that he had financial problems in the home. There has been no effort to provide “safe houses” for these small fishes, so the sharks can be netted. So you take your jail, while your super-rich boss stays in the trade, and continues to do his laundry business all over Guyana.
And of course, certain politicians visit the laundries often, but if you examine the parcels they are leaving with they contain paper not clothes.

A few months ago, I published a KN column captioned. “The American Embassy in Guyana is not doing its work.” Has it finally come to the reality that the Government of Guyana is not going to move against the drug traffickers and money launderers because these two venalities intersect with power and politics in a confluence of staggering illegal wealth, where the mansions and swimming pools make you think Guyana is a post-modern industrialized global giant?

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