Customs officials in Guyana last week intercepted and seized a box of cannabis that had been shipped from the United States.
The Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU), the top drug enforcement agency in the South American country, said in an announcement that its officers “were contacted on January 20, 2023, after packages of suspected cannabis were discovered in a box shipped from the United States at the Muneshwar shipping limited.”
“CANU officers arrived on the scene and conducted additional searches before taking possession of the box,” the agency said in the announcement, which was posted on Facebook. “The box was then transported to CANU headquarters in the presence of the employee of the shipping company, who made the discovery. The suspected cannabis tested positive for cannabis and amounted to 1.920 kgs.”
The Customs Anti Narcotic Unit said that investigations into the package are ongoing.
Despite marijuana’s ubiquity in Guyana’s warm climate, the country’s government takes a hardline against weed, strictly prohibiting its cultivation, sale and possession.
According to the Guyana Standard, the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit “conducted several raids and was able to clear 3,403.68 kilogrammes of narcotics amounting to a street value of $1.1 billion off the streets” last year.
“This represents a 68.26 percent increase in comparison to 2,022.88 kilogrammes of narcotics amounting to $634 million in 2021,” the outlet reported. “There were 24 cases of cocaine, 80 cases of cannabis, four cases of ecstasy, and two cases of methamphetamine in 2022.”
On the same day as the seizure of the cannabis package in Muneshwar, the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit announced that a woman had been “sentenced to four years in prison and fined $53.1 million for cannabis possession by Magistrate Leron Daly after admitting to having 59 kgs of cannabis in her possession for the purpose of trafficking.”
According to the Guyana Standard, the country’s government “has been investing millions of dollars in the security sector to provide a safe and secure environment for Guyanese,” including “purchasing vehicles for the Guyana Police Force (GPF) while training police officers and allocating half a million dollars to the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) to advance its work.”
CANU was “established through a Cabinet decision in 1994 and was implemented in August 1995,” according to the law enforcement agency’s official website.
“The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 1988 was amended in 1999 to facilitate the legal operation of the Unit and to give it the same authority to enforce it, as the Guyana Police Force,” the site explains. “In April 2001, Guyana and the United States signed a Shiprider Agreement to suppress illicit traffic by sea and air. The agreement seeks to reduce the ability of illicit narcotics traffickers to elude maritime law enforcement agencies within and outside the territorial waters of Guyana, as well as to strengthen Guyana’s maritime law enforcement capabilities. On July 23, 2003, the National Assembly passed the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Bill 2003. The Bill … provide[d] the legal framework for the implementation of provisions of international, hemispheric, regional and bilateral agreements, of which Guyana is a part. The Agency is also linked to INTERPOL, one of the world’s biggest coordinators of drug interdiction agencies. The Narcotics Unit also plays an active role in the World Customs Organisation. The Government of Guyana and the Government of Colombia signed an agreement that allowed Guyanese law enforcement officers to benefit from anti-narcotics training.”
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