JIS News

The Jamaica Coast Guard is reporting a significant fall in drug seizure at sea, with no cocaine seized since the beginning of the year. However, some 2,450 pounds of ganja were seized during the period. Out-going Commanding Officer, Sydney Innis told JIS News that they also seized seven boats and took 71.5 pounds of lobster and 5,000 pounds of fish from illegal fishermen.
“I have seen a significant fall in the importation or transshipment of cocaine through our waters. In 2003 we were apprehending about six or more go-fast boats with hundreds of pounds of cocaine within a year. We have seen this amount fall off quite a bit,” he said.
According to the Commander, the United States International Narcotics Matters Office has said that Jamaica has moved from being responsible for 20 per cent of the cocaine trade into the United States to two per cent or less.
He pointed out that the Coast Guard owed its success to team effort. “We see ourselves as part of a team and in fact, we work very closely with other agencies of government. We work very closely with the Narcotics police, Kingfish task force, the Jamaica Defence Force Air wing, British, US and Canadian partners, who usually support us with intelligence,” Commander Innis noted.
“We are at the forward edge in the export/import of the drug trade, that is to say, our presence is largely in the exclusive economic zone territorial sea, at the outer edge where we seek to stop the movement of contraband, but we do not do this alone,” he added.
The Coast Guard currently has three operational offshore patrol vessels, HMJS Cornwall, HMJS Middlesex and HMJS Surrey. These vessels are supported at the other stations by at least 12 medium range vessels. The Coast Guard currently mans six stations across the island, at Discovery Bay, Montego Bay, Port Antonio, Pedro Keys, Black River and Port Morant, which was opened recently.
“What these stations have done is increase our capability to respond very quickly to any reports.intelligence, that something is going to happen. It doesn’t only work for the drug trade but also search and rescue.it makes a huge difference to be able to respond quickly,” Commander Innis said.
With over 230 members, the JDF Coast Guard has primary responsibility for maritime safety, especially search and rescue operations.
“Other roles include protection of the marine environment, defence readiness and naval duties. We are part of the Jamaica Defence Force and so we have to maintain our proficiency for national security needs, to a lesser extent, but no less important; nation building, where we support all arms of government and other non-governmental organizations in various capacities,” he further explained.
To that end, the Coast Guards gives support to the Centre of Marine Sciences at the University of the West Indies in maritime research, the Fisheries Department in law enforcement and research, as well as other agencies by providing port security.

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