President Donald Ramotar (L) and US Ambassador Brent Hardt at a joint press conference
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- A United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) country office in Guyana has been given congressional approval. The announcement was made on Thursday at a joint press conference between President Donald Ramotar and US ambassador to Guyana Brent Hardt.
The office, which will be stationed at the US embassy in Georgetown, was welcomed equally by both the president and the ambassador.
“This is something I told the president in our first meeting that I would be working to achieve, and he has been consistently enthusiastic in support of this effort,” Hardt told the media.
He noted that whilst the US DEA has been working very closely with Guyana’s Police Force and Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) from its base out of its office in Trinidad, he said, “I have always believed that a DEA office on the ground in Guyana would allow us to take our counter-narcotic cooperation to a higher level.”
“I was plugging from the very beginning that I met the ambassador that this is one of the things that we would welcome here because I would like to make our country totally inhospitable towards those who try to use it to traffic drug and those types of illegal activities,” Ramotar said.
The president from the very beginning of his tenure expressed the view that narco-trafficking is an international problem that needs international cooperation to successfully combat it.
He noted as well, the importance of passing the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill, “...to fight against laundering of illegal money, fundamentally from drug trafficking.”
“Anyone who is against drug trafficking and narco-trafficking and fighting against criminals who are involved in this activity should be happy to pass such a bill because not passing it should be creating an atmosphere where they can do their business and the very idea is to block any loopholes,” the president said.
The office is to be set up as soon as possible, since the equipment is on its way to Guyana and the personnel have already been identified, Hardt said.
The US DEA will also support the strengthening of the capacity of its local counterparts by providing additional training support and equipment to these units to ensure that they are fully vetted and have the ability and capacity to operate hand in gloves with them, Hardt said.