…not sure if bandits are indeed “foreigners” – RamjattanBy Bhisham MohamedIn light of the recent robberies committed on two prominent mining camps in Guyana’s interior locations over the past two weeks, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan on Monday said security forces are contemplating the implementation of aerial surveillance in mining areas.Public Security Minister Khemraj RamjattanMinister Ramjattan, however, believes that although the idea of implementing the aerial surveillance is a good one, the need for patrols on the ground is also important. He has, however, admitted that there are challenges in the hinterland communities.In a telephone interview with this publication, the minister explained that the Public Security Ministry is looking at efforts to strengthen surveillance of the “extraordinary” territory involved, and as such, more gun licences are being made available to miners to assist them in protecting their properties.“There are also some security firms that are contracted by the miners to provide the necessary protection, but I agree (that) the Guyana Police Force’s presence is needed in those mining areas,” the minister told Guyana Times.He could not confirm whether those security personnel are trained to deal with situations such as the robbed mining camps had faced.“In the last robbery, involving the Chinese mining camp, we were told that a security firm was contracted to provide security, but we are not sure what took place; and that brings back the question of training,” Ramjattan said.ChallengesCommander Kevin AdonisHe posited that getting Police officers to a crime scene in hinterland areas is quite a challenge.“Due to the mountainous terrain, it is sometimes difficult to reach at a location in a timely manner. Most times the use of ATVs are recommended, but in some cases, it’s boat and foot,” he related.Divisional Commander Kevin Adonis has expressed an opinion similar to the minister’s when referring to the latest robbery committed on the Chinese mining camp.“The closest Police outpost to the Black Water area is at Eteringbang, and it took a team of Police ranks and soldiers four hours to reach the location. The ranks had to use boats, and then walk some distance. It is not a case that as soon as these crimes are committed, the Police can react right away,” Adonis stated.Adonis added that the soldiers and Police are doing an exceptional job, considering the challenges. Protecting Guyana’s borders is paramount, he noted, but added that, at the same time, an investigation has been actually launched to determine whether or not the crimes are committed by foreigners.Also touching on this issue, the Public Security Minister noted that he is awaiting a report from the Commissioner of Police with the findings of an investigation that was launched into the robberies.“As of now, we are aware that the people who committed the crimes spoke broken English, some Portuguese and some Spanish… This does not mean that they are foreigners… We have some smart Guyanese criminals who would use the little foreign language they know to make it look as if it is a bunch of foreigners who are trespassing on Guyana’s territory to commit the acts,” Minister Ramjattan said.He added that law enforcement officers are presently interviewing persons in the area to find out if they had seen any unusual movements by foreigners in the past weeks.About two weeks ago, four armed men staged a robbery on a mining camp at Baboon Backdam, Cuyuni River, Region Seven, escaping therefrom with millions of dollars’ worth of raw gold and other valuables, including a licensed shotgun.The bandits were reportedly armed with rifles and shotguns, and were clad in dark-coloured clothing. They also spoke a foreign language, allegedly Spanish or Portuguese.Initial investigations have revealed that about 28 workers attached to Mohamed’s Enterprise were in the mining camp when the men held the camp hostage. The miners were ordered to hand over all the raw gold that was kept in the camp, and all the personal items, including the shotgun.After committing the robbery, the gunmen disappeared.On Wednesday last, a group of four armed men — who also reportedly spoke Portuguese, broken English and Spanish — carried out a brazen daylight robbery on the China High Tech Mining Company at Black Water Backdam, Cuyuni River, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).The men, all masked, carted off 50 ounces of raw gold, estimated at $13 million; US$500, and two GPS systems belonging to the owner of the mining company.They also took one 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun with six matching rounds, and one AR rifle along with eight matching rounds, property of Mark’s Interior Communication.The Police have not as yet arrested anyone in connection with the robberies.