Two months on, no success for Joint Special Operations Group
allegations of drug use plaguing unit
On January 31 last, the Joint Services announced that a combat size (30-35) ‘Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG)’ was put into operation to sanitise what they called the target area (Buxton). This group has been assembled specifically to hunt down gunmen and eliminate the current threat they pose.
But almost two months into their operations there is little to show for their efforts.
So far the unit has not effected a single significant arrest despite Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Commodore Gary Best, announcing that the special team is effectively resourced (armed).
The unit was launched in the wake of the January 26 Lusignan slaying of 11 persons, including five children.
So far only one person has been charged with that massacre which preceded another brutal attack that saw the killing of 12 persons, including three policemen, at Bartica on February 17.
The special unit comprises ranks from both the Guyana Defence Force and the police and is based at the old Target Special Squad compound at Rabbit Walk Eve Leary. According to a source close to the unit, the Joint Special Operations Group is intelligence led, meaning that the members would only respond in the wake of verified intelligence. “They have to wait on instructions before they can move and time is the essence for operations of this nature,” the source said.
This newspaper also understands that the unit only goes out at night and apart from the arrests of a few drug addicts, nothing significant has occurred to justify its existence.
There are rumours that with so little to do, some members of the unit are using their time to perform taxi duties.
According to the source, recently, security at the base has been compromised with a number of women frequenting the Rabbit Walk compound.
It was reported that a female Assistant Commissioner of Police who occupies a flat next to the base had cause to chase a number of these women who had converged on the base to meet with male ranks. “All of this could distract the ranks from their objective and cause them to lose focus. How can this total slackness be allowed to continue?” the source opined.
One member of the unit, who for obvious reasons did not wish to be named, said that when the unit was first established, they were promised several vehicles to assist with efficient movement of the ranks. However, despite the crashing of one of the two vehicles that were initially assigned to the unit, the assets available to the unit remain limited.
The unit has been plagued by allegations of drug use with one rank actually being caught smoking marijuana.
This newspaper understands that four other members of the unit were tested positive for drug use and have been replaced. The Joint Special Operations Group was established in the midst of ‘Operation Restore Order’ because of the obvious breakdown in order in certain areas, according to Commodore Best.
President Bharrat Jagdeo has mandated the unit to use all means necessary to hunt down wanted man Rondell Rawlins and his gang. The Guyanese leader had stated that the Joint Services will spare no effort to bring an end to the gang and its murderous activities. Rawlins is currently listed as Guyana’s most wanted man for allegedly committing several murders, and police have issued a $50M reward for his capture.
Rawlins resurfaced some months ago after his pregnant girlfriend, 19-year-old Tenisha Morgan, vanished mysteriously on January 18, allegedly after traveling from Buxton to Georgetown to have her baby. She has not been seen since.
Despite the $50M reward being offered, from all appearances there has been no positive response from the public.
Under the Citizens’ Security Programme, which is to come on stream soon, there is provision for a special unit to deal with violent criminal activity.
However, given the current state of affairs of the Joint Special Operations Group, the administration of the security forces will have a lot to do to ensure the effectiveness of such a unit.