Cocaine smuggled through Jamaica drops by 80 per cent

KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 30, 2008 – Authorities in Jamaica are reporting an 80 per cent drop in the amount of cocaine smuggled through Jamaica to the United States from Colombia over the past four years.

State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Arthur Williams has attributed the reduction to the success of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (USDEA) ‘Operation Alcatraz’ in particular –  a special multi-national, multi-jurisdictional, wire intercept operation which targeted Colombian drug organisations and their confederates locally.

Senator Williams, who was speaking at the European Union-Latin America and Caribbean (EU-LAC) intelligence sharing workshop here which ends on Friday, said the initiative had led to the arrest and conviction of several persons, including a Jamaican man – designated a drug kingpin by the United States White House. He was recently sentenced by a Florida court to 36 years imprisonment for conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States.

“This (Alcatraz) operation, which used 230 Colombian wire intercepts, required a high level of multinational cooperation and coordination between the governments of Colombia, Jamaica, Panama, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” Senator Williams revealed.

“It resulted in the arrest of some 60 persons, including one based in the United Kingdom, and the seizure of some 10,710 kilogrammes of cocaine.”

He said this demonstrated what could be accomplished through a cooperative approach by various drug and law enforcement agencies across the world sharing intelligence, expertise and experiences.

Describing drug trafficking as the “cancer of all crimes”, Senator Williams noted that drug and law enforcement agencies globally “have had to discover all over again that there is strength in unity”.

He pointed out that many of the kingpins from Colombia, the Caribbean, Latin America and Mexico who were once at the top of their trade, are now spending the rest of their lives in federal prisons in the United States.

“The takedown of these major drug cartels did not happen by chance. It resulted from intelligence distilled from professionally analysed information gathered on the drug organisations and their leadership, and shared with co-operating drug and law enforcement agencies,” Senator Williams said.

He however pointed out that drug enforcement agents also needed to utilise the neutral legal assistance arrangements existing among countries to ensure that deportation laws and treaties are used to the fullest.