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GRA Under Fire For Cocaine Shipment To Jamaica

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The Guyana Revenue Authority is coming under fire for that cocaine in container shipment that made its way pass customs at a city wharf and all the way to Jamaica. The issue has several top security officials fuming as many of them claim that the GRA has not been too forthcoming about the shipment.

The GRA through its customs department is solely responsible for the examination of all exports and imports at city wharves. Although the customs anti narcotics unit was removed from the wharves last year, the GRA has not put in place a dedicated team to deal with the possibility of narco trafficking.

One customs officer said although customs officers have to examine the goods leaving and coming in, they are not trained in the detection of drugs and the much touted container scanner is still to become operational although staff members were trained in its operations.

The bust in Jamaica has triggered the home affairs ministry to call for a full report. But the ministry wants that report from the same customs anti narcotics unit that has been removed from the seaports. Reports state that CANU has been making efforts to get a hold of all the
shipment documents in relation to the container.

But the GRA may have now found itself trying to defend its operations. Just after the bust, the GRA tried to wash its hands clean of any wrongdoing by stating that it was the Guyana Forestry Commission that cleared the container of wood with that cocaine was found in, for shipping.
That statement incensed the forestry commission and its head James Singh came out with a strongly worded statement over the weekend pointing to its responsibilities and making it clear that the clearance of containers is not one of those responsibilities.

The Forestry commission listed the GRA STATEMENT as erroneous and misleading and said it
misrepresents the role of the GFC in the exportation of forest produce. It went on to state that It
further casts a bad perception on, and has the potential to adversely affect the continued positive development of the forestry sector. The GFC boss said For the sake of clarity therefore, the GFC states publicly that it has absolutely no role in the “clearing,” the packing of, or even the processing of containers for export. That forestry commission response forced the revenue authority to call in a private public relations firm and do some back peddling.

The revenue authority now states that it wants a proper and detailed investigation into what may have gone wrong. But that call is coming at the same time that the agency is carrying out its own investigations. The GRA capitol news understands is in receipt of all the documents with regard to the shipment but although CANU has asked to see those documents, they were still not handed over up to today. The bust was made last Thursday when the ship arrived in Jamaica. The cocaine was found in 6 large bags and weighed over 200 pounds with an estimated value of 700 million Guyana dollars.

The Guyana Revenue Authority now says that While the it is satisfied at this point that the Customs officers followed the documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) it is too early to lay the blame at any particular officer or agency but no one could be ruled out either. The forestry commission is conducting its own investigations to ensure that it’s cleared. Reports state that the forestry commission even dispatched one of its officers to Jamaica to continue with the investigations. Customs may have been unaware of that move.

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