Pubdate: Sun, 31 Mar 2002
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2002 The Observer
Author: Tony Thompson


Jamaican detectives are to be posted at British airports from the summer as 
part of a new initiative to stem the flow of drugs flowing from the 
Caribbean island into the UK.

Recent estimates suggest that at least one in 10 passengers on flights from 
Jamaica to London are carrying cocaine concealed inside their bodies and 
last December 41 drug mules were arrested after customs officials targeted 
two flights. The Jamaican officers will target holidaymakers flying out of 
the country.

One Customs officer told The Observer : 'Flights from England often contain 
couriers carrying large quantities of money. These are either the proceeds 
of drug sales, which are being laundered in Jamaica or payments for drugs 
which are then smuggled back to England.'

In one recent case, a specially trained sniffer dog detected money in the 
luggage of two women flying out of Heathrow to Jamaica. They insisted they 
had no money other than that in their purses. When one suitcase was opened, 
UKP680,000 was found hidden under towels.

The cooperation between the two countries was announced last week by 
Jamaica's National Security Minister, Peter Phillips. Representatives of 
Scotland Yard, HM Customs and the intelligence services are currently in 
Jamaica finalising the details.

The cost of the initiative will be met by a UKP10 million aid package from 
Britain aimed at modernising Jamaica's police force. At present the 
constabulary is so short of funds that many offi cers are forced to use 
their own cars to ferry suspects to and from court.

The money will pay for training and restructuring the police force as well 
as establishing a modern search centre. Seven hundred new police recruits 
will join the force in the next six months, bringing it up to full strength 
for the first time in decades. The influx of new technology will include 
IonScan detectors - hand-held wands which can tell if an airline passenger 
has swallowed cocaine. The devices can also be used to detect explosives.

Phillips suggested the scheme to demonstrate to Prime Minister Tony Blair 
that Jamaica was committed to stopping the drug trade. It is an alternative 
to proposals to introduce visas for Jamaican travellers to Britain, which 
many believed would be unworkable.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth