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Holness: Law enforcement must outsmart, outmuscle criminal network

Published:Wednesday | September 20, 2023 | 1:08 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter -
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has urged the global network of law enforcers to be stronger than the network of criminals if success is to come from the disruption of transnational criminal organisations and their supply chains.

Holness was making his keynote address at the 37th International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) taking place in Montego Bay, St James.

The three-day conference started yesterday and will run until Thursday.

"This conference, if it does nothing else, must bring the nodes in this network closer together,” Holness said.

The prime minister cited the conference as very important and said his Government was pleased to be cohosting the 37th IDEC under the theme ‘disrupting transnational criminal organisations and their supply chains’.

Holness recognised that Jamaica is a central location in the Americas and has been used as a transshipment point.

“Not just for legal goods and services but also for contraband- in particular narcotics - and therefore we believe the outcomes of this conference will be critical in helping us as a small island developing state to reduce if not eliminate the trafficking of illicit drugs through our borders,” Holness said.

Holness said the conference provides an opportunity for law enforcement practitioners around the world to share their knowledge, expertise and information on the narcotics trade.

“Conferences create an opportunity to discuss in a global context existing strategies and new approaches for addressing drug-related crimes as well as help to inform more effective drug policies, enforcement techniques and increasing the sharing of drug intelligence and to allow attendees to network and build relationships that would lead to collaborations and partnerships,” Holness said.

Drug trafficking is a global challenge that transcends geographical boundaries, Holness declared, underscoring the necessity for nations to adopt a cooperative multilateral strategy to effectively combat transnational crime.

“Jamaica continues to be the largest Caribbean source country for ganja and a transit point for cocaine trafficking from South America to North America and Europe. Transnational criminal organizations continue to use Jamaica as drug trafficking transit location despite our consistent and ongoing efforts to reduce and combat the illicit trafficking of narcotics,” Holness said.

The prime minister said the Jamaican authorities have estimated 150 unofficial entry points in Jamaica and its geographic location and accessibility facilitates direct routes for narcotrafficking from South and Central America to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“In addition, the illicit trafficking networks have increased their use of courier services to conduct narcotics shipment to North America and the United Kingdom,” Holness said.

He said some couriers exploit legitimate shipment routes that are voluminous by nature.

“The exploitation of passengers to traffic drugs is also a tactic that continues to be employed by criminal organsation to transport illicit substances across borders,” he said.

Holness also said that, as a consequence, the Jamaica authorities are aggressively seeking to strengthen the capacity of our customs agency as a key component as not just our border protection system but integrated into the national security apparatus.

The Jamaican Government said it was paying close attention to emerging drugs like molly and other synthetic drugs.

“We know that trends in the United States often times become global trends. In Jamaica we say if United States sneeze we catch a cold. We are paying very close attention to this development of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs,” Holness said.

He told the conference that cocaine production was also increasing in Colombia and the security forces are also seeing an increase of seizures of cocaine in Jamaica.

Holness assured international partners that the Jamaican government remains committed to the fight against the illicit trafficking of narcotics and war on drugs in general.

“Diplomatics partnerships play a crucial role in the fight against illicit drug trafficking. Agencies such as the DEA has worked closely with the Government of Jamaica in intelligence sharing, joint enforcement operations, technical capacity building and funding,” Holness said.