Pubdate: Fri, 05 Mar 2004
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2004 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Lloyd Williams, Senior Associate Editor
Article URL:


THE UNITED States Government has again given Jamaica a passing grade for 
its counter-narcotics efforts but said that "corruption continues to 
undermine law enforcement and judicial efforts against drug-related crime 
and is a major barrier to more effective counter-narcotics actions."

The evaluation is made in the U.S. Department of State's International 
Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), March 2004, which was published 
on Monday by the department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law 
Enforcement Affairs.

But while acknowledging steps the Jamaican Government had taken "to protect 
itself against drug trafficking and other types of organised crime", it 
said the Government "needs to intensify its law enforcement efforts and 
enhance international co-operation."

The report did not give details of its corruption allegations but it 
stated: "There are a number of on-going investigations into alleged 
drug-related corruption involving police personnel."

It stated that "the U.S., will work closely with the police and public 
prosecutors to enhance the GoJ's (Government of Jamaica's) ability to 
identify, investigate and successfully prosecute significant drug traffickers."

The Jamaica Constabulary Force-vetted unit continued to work with the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration on investigations targeting major 
traffickers and although no major trafficker was arrested in 2003, 
vetted-unit operations led to the arrests of several mid-level traffickers, 
it said.


INCSR 2004 stated that the Jamaican Government had taken steps to protect 
Jamaica against drug trafficking and other organised crime but "needs to 
intensify and focus its law enforcement efforts and enhance international 
co-operation in order to disrupt the trafficking of large amounts of 
cocaine through Jamaica and its territorial waters."

"Needed actions include arresting and prosecuting major drug traffickers 
operating in Jamaica, dismantling drug-trafficking organisations, and 
increasing drug seizures and eradication," it said.

It promised that the U.S. would continue to provide equipment, technical 
assistance and training to assist the Jamaican Government to strengthen its 
counter-narcotics capabilities.

Jamaica is the leading transit country for cocaine destined for the U.S. 
and European (primarily the U.K.) markets and the largest producer and 
exporter of cannabis (ganja) in the Caribbean.

INCSR 2004 quoted Narcotics Division staff as saying that there was an 
increase in cannabis cultivation in 2003 because of the absence of 
sustained eradication efforts for several years, resulting from the lack of 
manpower and equipment.

As a matter of policy, Jamaica does not use herbicides to eradicate ganja, 
using manual cutting instead.

On money laundering, INCSR 2004 stated that Jamaica was not a significant 
regional financial centre, tax haven or offshore banking centre, "but some 
money laundering does occur, primarily through the purchase of real assets, 
such as houses and cars. Cash couriers are also a significant concern."

The report suggested that "further action is required in the area of asset 
forfeiture to permit the GoJ to take full advantage of the mechanism to 
seize and forfeit the proceeds of criminal activities."

It observed that law enforcement authorities were hampered by the fact that 
Jamaica had no civil forfeiture law and under the 1994 Drug Offences 
(Forfeiture of Proceeds) Act, a narcotics trafficking conviction is 
required as a prerequisite to forfeiture.


INCSR 2004 praised the JCF Narcotics Division as "a competent and respected 
unit", and said it was undergoing restructuring and expansion to increase 
its staffing to 250 officers over the medium term.

It disclosed that in April, the JCF located a clandestine laboratory, 
seizing approximately 44 kilograms of cocaine along with chemicals used in 
its production, the first such discovery by Jamaican law enforcement.

It said that the Jamaica Fugitive Apprehension Team, with guidance from 
U.S. Marshals, specialised training, equipment, and operational support, 
was working on more than 200 cases, most involving drug or homicide charges.

Ten fugitives were extradited from Jamaica to the United States in 2003.
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