September 18 2018
Investigations have led to the discovery of the recreational drug ecstasy in five schools, according to Deputy Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) Lesley Ramlall, who said yesterday that catching the suppliers is an uphill task which requires inter-agency collaboration.
Ramlall was at the time expanding on the comments he had given moments earlier during the opening ceremony of the unit’s annual staff training.
“Yes… we have found ecstasy. Children came and admitted the use of it [and] the selling of it. We have gone to the other step of arresting persons who were selling this to the school children. Of course, the challenge [has] always been, ‘How do you get to the man at the top, the established dealer?’ Those are things we are working on to see how much we can get out of that,” he told reporters.
According to Ramlall, CANU launched investigations in five schools located in regions Three and Four after receiving reports of suspected use among students. While pointing out that those reports turned out be true, he said the videos of girls who had apparently consumed the recreational drug were “disturbing.”
“When you look at some of the videos… on the cell phones of our youths… especially our young girls, it is really really worrying for us in society,” he stressed.
He pointed out that the agency is working along with the Ministry of Education with respect to those investigations and he made it clear that no investigation will be done outside of an invitation from the ministry.
The CANU official stressed that ecstasy is not only being used by youths but also by the “affluent” persons in society. He explained that a lot of people are using it for their sexual enhancement and it is now trickling down into the school system.
He added that “more and more” synthetic drugs are coming into the country and the significant increase in use this year is noticeable.
Investigations have not unearthed the presence of marijuana, cocaine or heroin in those schools, he said.
With regard to heroin, a total of approximately two kilogrammes of the drug have been seized so far this year after being found in the possession of outgoing passengers at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
In his remarks during the opening ceremony, Ramlall urged all to take note of the seizure of synthetic drugs, such as heroin, ecstasy and crystal methamphetamine, the presence of which is of major concern. These were among the drugs seized during this year and he called them part of a “new trend” which is a “very worrying one for Guyana.”
Ramlall stated too that from all indications ecstasy appears to be the common narcotic that is readily available at many nightclubs and at parties.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, in his address, pointed out that law enforcement agencies were “losing the battle” as drugs have found their way into schools and he used the opportunity to urge parents to help in steering their children away from ecstasy and other drugs.
On the issue of the challenges associated with investigating the presence of drugs in schools, Ramlall told reporters that there is a need for collaboration with other agencies so as to capture the person at the top.
“It will always be a challenge for CANU to pin a narcotics [charge] on them, because they are so established. You have so many lieutenants working under you,” he said, while identifying the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) as one agency that they can collaborate with.
“If GRA comes onboard, we may not be able to get you for a narcotics charge but we will get you for tax evasion, which is the only way we will be able to bring down this entire narcotics empire we’re seeing growing everyday… that is why we are asking and we are pleading with other agencies to come on board with us, support us in this drive,” Ramlall added.
Following the discovery of a drug ring in at least two city secondary schools, Darrel John, 25, was charged in February with trafficking ecstasy to students.
The first charge against John, said to be the owner of a taxi service, stated that on February 12th, at Lot 141 Fifth Street, Alberttown, he had two grammes of ecstasy in his possession.
The reading of the second charge was held in-camera as the listed complainants were minors. It was alleged that between December 1st, 2017 and January 21st, 2018, John trafficked ecstasy tablets to them.
The accused denied both charges and was released on a total of $170,000 bail.
In April, Lonsdale Hope, 34, and his common-law wife Shelly Ann Gilgeous, 27, were charged with having possession of 66 grammes (equivalent to 0.14 pounds) of ecstasy for the purpose of trafficking. They were each granted $150,000 bail.
Two months later, a 34-year-old man, of Third Avenue, Bartica, was found in possession of 41 grammes of cannabis and 28.3 grammes of ecstasy at the Bartica Stelling.