TSA officials to visit and assess security at Cheddi Jagan Airport

TSA officials to visit and assess security at Cheddi Jagan Airport

Officials of the Transportation Security Administration of the United States Department of Homeland Security are expected in Guyana next week for a 10 day visit to assess the security conditions at Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan International Airport.

The visit will begin on January 12, 2015. During their stay, the TSA officials are expected to observe all the layers of security at the country’s main international airport and compile a full report on their findings.

The officials will also look at whether the airport has been observing the international standards which cover airport and aviation security. Special attention will be paid to the security surrounding flights between Guyana and the United States.

Over the past few months, there have been new concerns about the security situation at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. In November 2014 alone, there were several drug busts in the United States involving passengers who arrived there from Guyana.

Cocaine was found in suitcases, duty-free liquor, custard powder, milk tins and curry powder and flour packets that would have all been subjected to security checks.

There remains serious concern about the use of items sold in the duty-free departments at the airport to ferry cocaine out. In at least two recent cases, passengers arrived in the US with cocaine stashed in the bottles of alcoholic products that were reportedly bought in the duty-free area at the airport which should be highly secured areas.

The security situation at the local airport came under more scrutiny recently after a Guyanese pilot was busted in Puerto Rico while on his way to Guyana with over US$600,000 in cash stashed in bags on his private jet. He has since been charged in connection with that bust.

Reports surfaced just after the Puerto Rican money smuggling bust, that the pilot would make regular trips  to Guyana in his private jet and not be subjected to full security and customs checks during his arrival and departure.

Airport officials have dismissed those reports but a number of sources close to the Customs Department reported that they were prevented on more than one occasions from carrying out security checks on the man’s aircraft even while he was granted access to VIP areas of the airport.

Filed: 8th January 2015

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