- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

The following is excerpted from the U.S. Justice Department’s Drug Enforcement Administration report of September 2003 on the Caribbean, regarding Jamaica:

Traffickers smuggle cocaine through Jamaica primarily via go-fast boats, commercial airlines and commercial maritime vessels. Cocaine trafficking via private aircraft from Colombia to Jamaica has declined in recent years in favor of flights to Haiti, where law enforcement presence is less concentrated. Small amounts of cocaine and South American heroin sometimes are smuggled to the United States on commercial flights transiting Jamaica. According to the CBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection], most arrests for cocaine possession at U.S. airports involved flights that originated in Jamaica. …

Jamaican traffickers frequently use maritime containerized cargo and concealed compartments on maritime vessels to smuggle large marijuana shipments (i.e., 3,000- to 10,000-pound loads). Marijuana is concealed inside container walls, floors, roofs and tires. Refrigerated units often are used to conceal the drug by replacing the inside insulation with marijuana. Hashish oil, a byproduct of cannabis, also is produced in Jamaica.

Jamaica’s north coast appears to be the center of activity for hashish-oil production. Most of Jamaica’s exported hashish oil is destined for Canada. …

Cocaine and marijuana are readily available in Jamaica. Wholesale amounts of cocaine sell among traffickers from $5,500 to $7,000 per kilogram. Low-grade marijuana sells for between $23 and $35 per pound, while high-grade marijuana sells for between $66 and $178 per pound. The Jamaica Drug Abuse Secretariat reports that the number one illicit drug of abuse in Jamaica is marijuana, followed by crack cocaine.

The Drug Abuse Secretariat also informed the DEA of several reports from resort personnel in Negril, Jamaica, about tourists inquiring about the purchase of [Ecstasy]. Heroin use in Jamaica is primarily limited to the tourist areas on the north coast.

Marijuana possession and use is currently illegal in Jamaica. According to the Jamaican press, fines for possessing marijuana are about $2.50 and fines for smoking marijuana are about $5. Individuals caught with more than 8 ounces of marijuana can be charged with drug trafficking and imprisoned for up to 18 months. Individuals possessing large quantities of marijuana for distribution can receive prison sentences of three years or more.

In August 1962, Jamaica became a fully independent member of the British Commonwealth. Jamaica has signed the major international antidrug agreements, including the 1961 U.N. Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol; the 1971 U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances; and the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention. The government of Jamaica has signed, but not ratified, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. In 1983, the U.S. government and the government of Jamaica signed an extradition treaty.

The governments of the United States and Jamaica have had an MLAT [mutual legal-assistance treaty] since July 1995, and a maritime law enforcement cooperation agreement since April 1998. Jamaica is a member of the FATF [Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, an international body established by the Group of Seven summit held in Paris in 1989.].

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