In French Guiana, on the banks of the Maroni, where cocaine trafficking to the metropolis explodes – Shipping Marihuana Website Quebec Canada

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Two months ago, the police forces launched a plan strengthened against the explosion of the number of "mules" in Guyana, these people who put drugs on the plane between Cayenne and Orly. In 2018, the figures doubled, with 1,349 arrests. The situation has become critical since 2015, mainly due to the increase in cocaine production in South American countries, which is increasing traffic. The customs services, now totally overwhelmed, are trying to react. Europe 1 went to the border between Suriname and Guyana, meeting the smugglers and police trying to stop them.

On the Maroni River, dozens of pirogues make the round trip between Suriname and Guyana every day to transport travelers, some of whom return with a cargo of cocaine. It is enough to discuss five minutes with the young people waiting on the banks of the river by asking who has already made the "mule", and flew to Paris to understand the extent of the phenomenon.

"He there, he did it in October," said a young man pointing at another boy with short braids and gold-plated teeth. On his own, he carried six kilos of cocaine, taped under his clothes, around his legs and waist. "Me," he continues, "I carried 800 grams into my body, swallowing some capsules." A risky bet, but that pays: since according to customs, a mule can receive between 3,000 and 10,000 euros per trip, depending on the amount transported.

Explosive traffic and changing ways of passage

A third of the traffickers' small hands would come from Suriname, another third of the western, rural Guyana. With an unemployment rate of 22% in Guyana, three-quarters of these intermediaries are unemployed, according to the prosecution, and therefore attracted by greed.

Their methods are also changing: a few years ago, swallowing the drug was the majority, but according to a report of the Central Office for the Suppression of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs (OCTRIS) made in February 2019, this is not the case. no longer really the case. The mules swallow less and less the drug (only 24% of the cases in 2018), and prefer rather to hide it on them (28% of the cases) or in the suitcases (42% of the cases, always according to report OCTRIS), which allows to take more. Moreover, the quantities seized by customs are increasing: 1.7kg on average per person arrested, with a range between 1 and 20kg!

Police and customs officers too few

With 1,349 arrests last year in Cayenne, law enforcement officials arrest more than three people a day. But this is only the submerged part of the iceberg, because the police estimate to 8 or 10 the number of mules sent for each flight between Cayenne and Orly. This is the strategy of saturation: the traffickers know that customs officers can not afford to treat more than two or three people a day.

"A mule is at least 35 days of procedure, so at least two customs officers and a doctor," says Rodolphe Alexandre, the president of the French-speaking Guyana Territorial Collective. "The services are insufficient, take the case of the scanner or the ultrasound system, it is necessary either a doctor or a nurse to follow these operations." Currently, the system installed in Cayenne airport to detect drugs in the body does not work.

The authorities have therefore decided to launch a reinforced control plan on 11 April, with the assignment of four additional customs officers at the border by summer, which will increase the number of staff from 18 to 22 at the border. Saint-Laurent du Maroni, and eight prison beds instead of four at the Cayenne hospital to take care of those who swallowed the drug. It is also about increasing the controls, on the roads and at the airport, in Guyana as on arrival in France.

Dismantle networks

A first assessment must be done on July 10th. "There were many more arrests during the enhanced deterrence operations, these arrests were multiplied by three or even four", already welcomes the Prosecutor of Guyana, Samuel Finielz. "On the dismantling of traffic, there is still not fully the fruits of this policy, because what is really important for us is to prevent people from flying." The flow of mules is such that we must first try to control it before the investigation services can have time to tackle the networks in depth.

Knowing that Justice, too, has a hard time keeping up with the pace: drug trafficking is already mobilizing three-quarters of its emergency procedures, in a territory where the rest of the crime also gives it a lot of work.

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