Big dent in narco trade, serious crimes

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Minister of Citizenship and PNC/R Executive, Winston Felix

…Min. Felix attributes success to improved resources, political will

WITH improved resources and investments in the Guyana Police Force (GPF), since the change in administration, serious crimes in Guyana have been reduced by 25 per-cent. The figure includes drops in the number of murders, rapes, burglaries and break and enter and larceny.

There has also been a significant dent in the narco-trafficking industry, with major seizures of drugs over the years. This was declared by Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, as he delivered remarks, on Friday, at the People’s National Congress weekly press briefing.

“Guyana is finally moving in the right direction. Serious crime has been reduced from over 3600 incidents in 2014 to just under 2700 incidents in 2018, a decrease of 25 per cent. The Guyana Police Force has been expanded and given resources and training they need to fight crime. Unlike under the PPP/C, today crimes are solved,” Felix, a former Commissioner of Police, noted.

“Special police units have been established to fight organized crime gangs that once controlled our country. Due to these initiatives, there has been a 25 per cent drop in murders from 149 to 111, a drop in reported rapes, burglary and breaking and entering.”
Felix said the security sector in Guyana is still recovering from the damage done by the PPP/C during their 23-year reign over the country. “Under the PPP/C, Guyana was infamously known for its narco-economy, violent crimes and endemic corruption. During its time in government, the PPP/C aligned itself with organised crime, using their activities to line their own pockets, while pushing our economy into anarchy,” he noted.
400 unsolved murders

“It was under their watch that contraband smuggling was prevalent, narco- trafficking and gun-running were common place, gun crimes were at an all-time high, drug death squads roamed the streets causing over 400 unsolved murders, human trafficking was common place, crimes such as bribery, armed robberies, arson, inter personal violence, murder, piracy, rapes all increased under the PPP/C. The GPF was starved of the resources and training they badly needed.”

In drug trafficking industry, Felix said convicting the “big fish” has proved difficult because, as in many other countries, the major players in the industry are well protected; however the country has seen much headway in the seizure of illegal drugs.
“On the issue of major convictions for big fish, that continues to be a work in progress. In no country the big fish is caught just like that… it calls for extensive work because of the manner in which big fishes are protected and organized,” he said.

Tackling narco trafficking
“The National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) was established by the coalition government to tackle drug trafficking. As a result, we have seen an increase in narcotic seizures, with over 800kg of cocaine, 65,000kg of cannabis, 1,900kg of heroin seized in 2017 and 2018. Guyanese authorities initiated 503 prosecutions and convicted 227 individuals for narcotics trafficking during the same period.”

Felix said the disconnect between the statistics and the perception by the public that crime is not reducing has much to do with the purposeful emphasis placed on crimes in reports by media houses. “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be published. I am fully in agreement that the people must know but it is the prominence it is given. Crime is an ever-present feature in every society. It’s how we manage it and how the media also manage it. That is the issue for me right now,” Felix said

“It is the newspaper articles that headlines crime that generates the fear in this society. I am not saying that should not be published but other countries have more serious crimes; check and see how many of them make headlines in the daily newspaper.” He says the evidence is there to show that improvements are being made in the police force.

Intelligence gathering
“Look at what the police are doing. They’re setting up cameras in the streets, they’re using intelligence-gathering methods to assist in solving crimes. They’re using public relations methods, they are community-based projects; are all geared at gaining support of the public to report crime and assist the police in solving crime,” Felix said.

“Thousands of street lights and CCTV cameras have been installed all across Guyana under the APNU/AFC government. In many regions, the installation of street lights has caused a reduction in petty crimes. Residents across seven constituencies in the East Berbice-Corentyne Region are no longer afraid to venture out at night, thanks to the newly- installed street lights.”

Felix says much has been invested in ensuring that the police have the proper resources, and proper measures are put in place to tackle crimes.

“All forms of crime is unacceptable and that is why we are endeavouring to ensure that the police force is resourced to a level that would enable it to eventually detect and prevent the commission of crime. We have increased their budgetary activities to give them the capacity to deal with this scourge which is in our society,” he said. “The PNC/R calls on Guyanese to support the APNU/AFC and our plan to crack down on crime and corruption. We are making progress, but it is still only the beginning. There is still so much more that needs to be done to make our communities and our streets safe. A safe, stable community will bring with it a stable climate for the creation of real and meaningful jobs. With your continued support we can take Guyana forward.”