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‘Priority Shipment’ protocol for Guyana’s rice enables cocaine passage

'Priority Shipment' for Guyana's rice enables cocaine passage

A shipment of rice being loaded for exportย 

The rice shipment from Guyana which turned up in Germany a few days ago was shipped by local miller Nand Persaud, located on the Corentyne Coast. The cocaine carries an approximate street value of EUR 300 million and weighs 1.5 tons.

The company in an interview with BIG Smith News Watch has since categorically denied any involvement or knowledge of cocaine amongst the shipment of rice.

But what is of greatest concern and would to some seem inexplicable, is that the system in Guyana, when it comes to shipping rice to other ports and countries, makes it easy for smugglers of illicit items and substances to place those items among rice shipments.

The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) considers any rice shipment aย โ€œpriority shipment.โ€ By this, it means that once rice arrives on wharf, it could be shipped out of Guyana without the necessary detailed paperwork, and that is exactly what has been happening for years. This practice has placed a strain on local law enforcement to track shipments belonging to persons who are on their watch list.

โ€œRice is treated as a โ€˜priority shipmentโ€™ by GRA, so a lot of times the commodity departs the country and the paperwork is done later, and when you are going through documents, you see the name of someone who is on your radar making a shipment, but you canโ€™t pull back the shipment because it has already left Port Georgetown,โ€ย BIG Smith News Watch was told by a law enforcer.

โ€œThis has been placing us in a very difficult and disadvantageous situation,โ€ย the law enforcer added, as it was pointed out that there is no way of knowing if all the containers are been scanned by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

โ€œThe whole process needs to be looked at to see what is really happening there at GRA and how rice shipment is being treated, because we will continue to have this problem.โ€

The Guyana Rice Development Board in a statement on Friday washed its hands of any blameworthiness in relation to the shipment, and made it clear that their only job is to ensure that any rice shipment leaving the country meets the prescribed requirement, in terms of quality.

GRDB noted that notwithstanding the discovery of the cocaine in the rice shipment coming to light earlier this week, having been discovered on June 27, 2020, the shipment left Guyana on May 25, 2020. At this point, it is unclear at which point the cocaine was placed among the rice, but this publication was informed that after the initial checks, their German counterparts have not informed local authorities of signs of tampering with the containers, or the seals which were affixed to them in Guyana.

This publication was reliably informed that not so long ago, one of the players closely associated with this rice shipment had forged a license to ship scrap metal out of the country. However when the forgery was unearthed, a senior government functionary in the previous administration had made a call to law enforcers, and the shipment was allowed passage on the forged document.

We learnt also, that an employee associated with the shipper once walked off the job after he was instructed not to search specific containers in which rice was being packed. This publication was told that earlier this week there was another shipment of rice that left port Georgetown through the DDL Wharf. Contacted this morning, the head of shipping for that facility said that he would need to double-check and get back to this publication but he never did. Repeated calls subsequently went unanswered.