A foreign service officer in Guyana has been accused of selling visas for sex and money. Edy Zohar Rodriguez Duran, a Texas native who has been stationed at the embassy since 2011, has been the subject of a months-long State Department investigation. Duran was dismissed from the embassy in late June of 2013.
Duran’s targets are said to have been local women, and wealthy businessmen – some of whom were in the business of drug trafficking. This is not a small allegation in Guyana, which borders both Venezuela and Brazil. Nearly 2 of every 5 Guayanese lives below the poverty line. Those who live above it? Well, some were willing and able to pay the $40,000.00 price that Duran allegedly set on the U.S. visas.
The Guyanese press has reported that “his choice of women were Indo-Guyanese.” Duran ran this “business” – if it can be called a business, rather than human trafficking – out of a local casino, and a bar called The Hibiscus (known to be frequented by drug lords).
If this plot seems too familiar, too Hollywood-perfect, that’s because it’s been done before – by a man named Thomas Carroll, in Guyana in the late 1990s. Carroll became a multimillionaire, with an operation so large that it noticeably impacted the economy of the small Caribbean country. Carroll even helped smuggle in Chinese illegals who stopped in South America en route to the U.S. - something that Duran is rumored to have done, as well.
Duran appears to have been following Carroll’s blueprint for human trafficking so closely, it’s a wonder that the State Department wasn’t able to catch him much sooner. It’s a wonder that – even though there is photographic evidence of Duran’s misdeeds – the State Department took months before dismissing him, and simply relocated him to another Guyanese office first. It’s a wonder that the State Department has only now released a statement, “after months of stonewalling and denials.”
It remains to be seen just how many corrupt officials, drug lords, and the like that Duran has let in to the country. It remains to be seen how much money he made. The State Department – which lied about Sec. Kerry’s whereabouts during the Egyptian coup, which is still under fire for early claims about Benghazi – is supposedly investigating Duran. What we know about this State Department is that the truth only comes out when the scandal reaches a rolling boil. Let’s not let this one be ignored.