DEA to tackle ‘big fish’ -but effective judiciary crucial
THE U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that it is committed to capturing the big drug pushers here, but urged strong support from the judiciary, which has come under heavy criticisms over the years for some of the decisions it has made on narcotics-related charges.These comments were made by DEA Regional Director Matthew Donahue at the launch of the agency’s office at the United States Embassy in Georgetown on Wednesday. Donahue said his team brings a wealth of knowledge to Guyana and stressed the importance of catching the ‘big fish’. “It does not do too much good to arrest a guy with heroin or cocaine or crack on the street if we can’t bring that back to the entire organisation and use the judicial programme here and the judicial support to bring the entire organisation down… that’s why you have conspiracy laws, that’s why you have cooperation…it is a worldwide problem, tied into terrorism,” said Donahue, who is the newly-assigned regional head.
He said the approach to transnational crimes must not be myopic and urged all stakeholders to “look at a worldwide approach” to the problems. The Regional Director stressed that the DEA is not a ‘fly-by-night’ entity and is open for ideas. “You need the support and we need the support,” he said, as he expressed confidence in being successful here.
“We are going to be successful; our people are going to work hard,” Donahue assured. The Regional Director said the establishment of the DEA office in Guyana provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to demonstrate what can be accomplished on an international scale.
“One thing you need to understand about the DEA and what we are going to bring to your country, the police and the military — we look at things internationally, we don’t focus on just the small time drug traffickers, we focus on international, who is going to be bringing the drugs in and who is taking the drugs out of the country.”
He said it is important for the public to understand that the DEA’s role is not just to support the local law enforcement agencies. Additionally, Donahue said training will form an important arm in the collaboration, noting that his team has lots of experience and will work with stakeholders to ensure they too are knowledgeable.
“Training is a big thing, we are going to bring a lot of training, a lot of experience. I think what we should look at now is historical knowledge, we are bringing people that have been around the world,” Donahue added. The DEA, he said, is not a big agency but it is very influential. He said that staff attached to the DEA work hard and make lots of sacrifices to get their goals accomplished. “We can’t do it alone, we come in, we forge relationships and we forge goals. We have nothing to hide, we will put it on the table, we know there are going to be losses, there are going to be problems, we lick our wounds, but if we don’t do it what is your community going to look like. What’s the world going to look like?”
Donahue was at pains to point out that the DEA does not only look at drug traffickers but focuses a lot on organisations.“You see drug traffickers and you believe that is all they are, but we are not going to win the fight against drug traffickers because these are the same people that are human trafficking, that are illegally mining gold, illegally mining minerals that are committing assassinations. They are all a criminal organisation.”
Given the transnational nature of the criminal activities, Donahue said DEA will stand like a bridge for Guyana to cooperate with other territories and agencies. “We need to look at a worldwide approach to this and that’s why this office is so important. We really appreciate the invitation and this isn’t going to be a fly-by-night thing, we are not going to fix everything in two days. It is going to be another foundation to what you currently have and we look forward to being part of that. We are open for ideas, we are going to pass ideas, we are going to bring other countries in to work with us and we are going to take the military and the judicial branch to other countries as well to communicate directly with these countries,” the Regional Director explained.
Noting that Guyana is not a source country, he said, the problems of drug and crime are not unique to Guyana and so support is needed across the board. “You need the support, we need the support focus internationally to target these people and not just arrest a few people here …to dismantle and destroy these organisations,” added Donahue, who has worked in several Latin American countries.