GDF to build improved weapons storage facility
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will be constructing an improved weapons storage facility, Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best says, while emphasizing that the force is not letting up on its hunt for weapons which went missing from its arsenal three years ago.
In 2006, 30 AK 47 assault rifles mysteriously disappeared from the army’s munitions stores and to date only 18 of them have been recovered.
No clear public explanation has ever been given as to exactly how and when those weapons were taken and who was responsible for their removal. Except for one which was recovered in a clump of bushes at Enterprise, East Coast Demerara and another in a house in Church Street, all the rifles which have been found to date were in the hands of criminals.
“We would never stop looking,” said Best emphatically, after he was asked whether the army’s search for the weapons was continuing.
However, he told Stabroek News that he did not believe that the weapons were in use since the level of criminal activity had reduced somewhat and the current crimes were not associated with rifles. “We don’t feel that the weapons out there are being used,” he said.
According to Best the army still has its telephone lines open for any information which may lead to the discovery of the weapons. He said intelligence was still coming in and searches continued to be conducted.
Asked what improvements the army had made within recent times to ensure there would be no recurrence of weapons theft, Best said that an improved weapons storage facility would be constructed this year where the arms would be effectively secured and monitored.
“We are taking steps to ensure that none of our weapons are left unprotected, but where we are putting them is a matter of national security,” he said.
The most recent find of a stolen AK 47 was made during a raid on a house at Haslington, East Coast Demerara. The house was the hiding place of Courtney James who was wanted in connection with a series of armed robberies and rapes along the coast.
James reportedly had the gun during robberies, but there was no evidence indicating he had used it, a high level police officer had confirmed to this newspaper recently.
James was shot dead by police at Mandela Avenue and Hunter Street Georgetown following a chase by police.
James Gibson, who was killed during a shootout with police at Cromarty foreshore in December also had one of the weapons in his possession, as did Jermaine ‘Skinny’ Charles, who was killed along with Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins.
Eight of the rifles were recovered in the possession of eight men who robbed commercial banks at Rosehall, Corentyne.
The army in collaboration with the police conducted numerous raids across Georgetown, on the East Coast Demerara and in Berbice in search of the weapons, but 12 of them have not been found.