JIS News

The Government is fully committed to protecting Jamaica’s borders from infiltration by criminal networks seeking to engage in illicit activities under the guise of humanitarian appeals.
Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson, gave the assurance in the Senate on Friday (Jan. 22), which came against the background of concerns about the guns for drugs trade, particularly between criminal elements in Jamaica and Haiti.
Senator Nelson, who was making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate, said there is strong correlation between the illegal trade in firearms and ammunition, drug trafficking, and murders.
“This trade continues to be at the heart of the activities of major criminal networks in Jamaica. As a result, there is a tremendous demand on our limited resources to patrol our entire coastline and protect our coastal towns from being overrun by criminals”, he stated.
He informed that since the start of 2009, 77 per cent of all murders committed in Jamaica featured the use of the gun. “The ease of accessibility of illegal firearms has resulted in an increase in the number of highly organised criminal gangs, especially in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. It has resulted in the development of a sub-culture that promotes violence, and the desirability of gun-ownership,” the Minister contended.
He said that last year, the Ministry engaged several regional states, including Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica in discussions, “to arrive at an agreement to address common security threats”. This included the posting of local law enforcement officers in Haiti.
“The increased number of Jamaican police officers assigned to the United Nations (UN) Stabilisation Mission in Haiti led to the seizure of several caches of firearms and ammunition in 2009. Here, in Jamaica, with specific reference to the guns for drugs trade, a total of 36 firearms, most of them nine millimeters, as well as three rifles, and two submachine guns, were seized in 2009. During the year, nearly 9,000 pounds of ganja and 70 acres of fully grown plants were destroyed,” he outlined.
While noting concerns about Haiti’s plight in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, which devastated that nation, and the need for international humanitarian assistance, Senator Nelson said that the Government will protect its boarders from those who wish to cause the country harm.
“The Ministry of National Security will continue to exercise its functions to protect the Jamaican people. I want to make a direct appeal to citizens not to facilitate illegal activities, particularly marriages of convenience with foreign criminals,” he said.
The Minister assured of increased vigilance by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), in ensuring that marriages of convenience and other forms of deception are not used as a “cover for furthering criminal activities”, and that the administration remained “vigilant in our effort to protect our borders.”

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