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28/03/2008 | U.S. says it can do more in drug-plagued Guyana

Reuters Staff

The United States could do more to help fight drug trafficking in Guyana, a top U.S. official said on Wednesday, weeks after a State Department report criticized the South American nation for its drug record.

 

Thomas Shannon, a top State Department diplomat for Latin America, said Washington needed to work more closely with Guyana and other Caribbean countries to tackle trafficking.

Guyana, a poor English-speaking nation with a long coastline, is an easy target for traffickers who use it as a shipment point to the Caribbean, the United States and Europe.

"There is more we can do", Shannon said on a visit to Guyana. He promised to pass on a request for a permanent presence of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in the country.

"We need to find a better way to work together and to share information" he said. Shannon also called for an integrated regional approach to the problem to block drug traffickers from exploiting gaps in the law enforcement efforts.

In its annual narcotics report published this month, the State Department described cooperation between Guyana's law enforcement as fragmented and unproductive.

"Weak border controls and limited resources for law enforcement allow drug traffickers to move shipments via river, air and land without meaningful resistance," the report said.

U.S. anti-drug agencies do not know how much cocaine passes through the country.

Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo responded to the report by asking for more resources and support.

Washington is critical of the anti-drug efforts of Venezuela, which lies between Guyana and major cocaine producer Colombia, accusing the left-wing government of President Hugo Chavez of not doing enough to stop smuggling.

Chavez refuses to sign an anti-drug cooperation agreement with Washington, although Venezuela frequently extradites Colombians accused of drug crimes to the United States.

(Reporting by Sharief Khan in Georgetown)

Reuters (Estados Unidos)

 



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