A 3.4 million Guyanese dollar or nearly US$17,000 worth of cocaine was found in five sealed brown envelopes with Christmas cards at a post office in Guyana.

According to Guyana's Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the 647.6 grams of cocaine, neatly stashed in the brown envelopes with Christmas cards, were bound for Brooklyn, New York. 

Authorities said the drug bust took place at the post office in Georgetown on Friday and confiscated the cocaine-filled Christmas cards. However, there were no arrests made. 

The CANU said authorities were now trying to track down the sender of the cocaine that had an estimated street value of $3.4 million Guyanese dollar. The agency noted that investigations are still ongoing.

Guyana remains a crucial point for cocaine shipment heading to the United States and across the Atlantic. The extradition of a former Guyanese police officer to the U.S. in 2020 on drug smuggling charges has shed light on Guyana's relevance as a transit point for transporting drugs to the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, ex-cop Shaun Neblett, also known as "Dapper," was the first citizen extradited from Guyana to face federal charges in the U.S. since 1999.

Nebblett was accused of recruiting couriers in Guyana to carry baggage containing "cocaine ladened shoes" to the U.S. via commercial flights.

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Guyana as Transit Hub on Cocaine Trafficking Routes

According to InsightCrime, the strategic location of Guyana and corruption at its ports had formed the basis for the country's ongoing role as a key transit hub for cocaine heading the U.S., Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and West African nations.

The permeability of Guyana's border with major drug trafficking nations such as Brazil and Venezuela make it an ideal jumping-off point for cocaine smugglers.

James Singh, head of Guyana's CANU, earlier told InSight Crime that the country was caught in the crosshairs of drug trafficking networks operating between "supply" and "demand" countries.

Singh added that nearby nations had already taken counter-narcotics measures that resulted in a "balloon effect," pushing drug traffickers to establish new routes in Guyana.

A State Department's narcotics control report noted that Colombian cocaine is typically smuggled to Venezuela and continued to Guyana by air or sea.

The illicit drugs could also be transported via land borders and rivers shared by Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname before reaching Guyana. The report further noted that the country also has remote airstrips and scanning issues when it comes to checking the drugs at its exit and entry points.

The United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime coordinator, Bob Van Den Berghe, reportedly said that Guyana has access to scanning equipment. However, he noted that those machines have not always been used in an optimal way to detect illegal loads.

There was a record of numerous drug busts in Europe directly linked to Guyana, showing how drug traffickers utilize the country for drug routes.

Apart from scanners failing to detect small quantities of drugs in large loads of scrap metal, Van Den Berghe said there were also difficulties in using drug-sniffling dogs on scrap metal cargo, injuring the animals.

According to Singh, authorities intend to adopt a multi-agency approach to help fight corruption. Illegal drugs traveling through Guyana are usually heading to the U.S. and Europe.

Security Aid to Guyana

The U.S. government has provided Guyana $500,000 in security aid to help the country fight drug trafficking. However, InsightCrime reported that it might not be enough to overcome political resistance towards fighting drug trafficking in the country.

Guyana's former foreign minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett earlier said the funds would be used to bolster the capacity of Guyanese police to curb drug-related violence and do counter-narcotics work.

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Written by: Mary Webber

WATCH: Guyana Authorities No Match for Druglords - 05 Mar 09 - From Al Jazeera English