Guyana mulls floating police to fight jungle crimes

Local security authorities in Guyana are to construct floating police stations in Amazonian jungle rivers to help curb a spate of murders, armed robberies and other acts of violence in the nation’s interior where surging world prices for gold have attracted millions in investments and thousands of new miners to bush communities hoping to earn get-rich-quick dollars or die trying.

Legislators currently going through the financial estimates for the 2012 national budget have so far approved nearly a million dollars for an undisclosed number of fully-equipped pontoon-based stations that will provide police and military services to far-flung areas, where large multitudes of miners either pan for gold with traditional pick-axes and shovels or work high-tech, three-storeyed vessels to search for gold.

National Security Minister Clement Rohee said Monday that experts have agreed that the floating stations might be the most innovative way of policing the gold- and diamond-rich western and northern interiors which recorded 45 murders last year, about 35 more than normal and saw a number or armed raids on mining camps by large groups of rifle-toting gangsters. Both miners and gangsters died during raids.

Police say reports of many acts of violence too often do not reach them because the nearest police station could be many days and a few mountains away. They also say they are probing seven gold bush murders for this year so far, including that of 29-year-old dredge owner Travis DeSouza who was stabbed to death on Saturday in a row over stolen mining equipment.

“We have already designed this facility together with the Guyana Defense Force and believe it will help tremendously in bringing the crime situation under control in the interior division,” Rohee said. “We recognize that with a gold shout, the population moves from one area to another,” he added.

Gold has in the past four years surged past sugar, rice and bauxite as the country’s top foreign exchange earner. Nearly two dozen Canadian and American companies are exploring large mines with Canadian Guyana Goldfields set to begin production at a mega mine in western Guyana in the next two years.

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