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State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Arthur Williams has disclosed that there has been an 80 per cent reduction in the amount of cocaine smuggled through Jamaica to the United States from Colombia since 2004.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day Bi-Annual European Union-Latin America and Caribbean (EU-LAC) intelligence sharing workshop at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, today (May 28), Senator Williams 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 organizations and their confederates locally, among others.
This led to the arrest and conviction of several persons, including a Jamaican – designated a drug kingpin by the United States White House, he said.
Senator Williams said the Jamaican was sentenced in the US District Court, Southern District of Florida to 440 months (36 years) imprisonment for conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. He pointed out that the evidence presented against the Jamaican showed that between 1998 and 2004, his drug organization received as much as 15,000 kilogrammes of cocaine, imported by go-fast boats from the northern coast of Colombia, adding that the drugs were then stored in Jamaica, subsequently transported to the Bahamas, and eventually shipped to the United States for distribution and sale in South Florida.
“This (Alcatraz) operation, which used 230 Colombian wire intercepts, required a high level of multinational co-operation and co-ordination between the Governments of Colombia, Jamaica, Panama, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 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,” Senator Williams informed.
The State Minister said this clearly demonstrated what could be accomplished in the drive to curtail drug trafficking through a co-operative approach by different drug and law enforcement agencies 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 in the top echelons 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 analyzed information gathered on the drug organizations and their leadership, and shared with co-operating drug and law enforcement agencies (in several countries),” Senator Williams said.
He pointed out that as powerful as information sharing was, drug enforcement agents also needed to utilize the neutral legal assistance arrangements existing among countries, thus ensuring that deportation laws and treaties are used to the fullest.
“I submit that this increasingly effective approach towards targeting the organizational leadership of the drug syndicates and disrupting the alliance of control, is going to continue to pay dividends,” Senator Williams asserted.
Some 50 delegates from Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean are attending the workshop, being hosted by Jamaica for the first time. The workshop, being held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, ends on Friday (May 30).