KINGFISH PUTS BIG DENT IN DRUG TRADE
Cocaine, Three Go-Fast Boats Seized - 7 Colombians among 9 Men Arrested
Just over two weeks after it was launched with American and British endorsement, Operation Kingfish, the Jamaican Government's latest counter-narcotics and gang-busting task force, put a big dent in the illegal drug trade with the seizure of almost Ja 4 billion dollars worth of cocaine headed for the US through Jamaica.
Nine men, seven of them Colombians, are now in US custody in connection with the seizure made in the north western Caribbean Sea between Sunday and Wednesday, and three go-fast boats have been confiscated. The police, up to last night, were unable to say where the other two men were from.
Last night, Assistant Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, who heads Operation Kingfish, told the Observer that the three boats were intercepted separately by American law enforcement agents, assisted from land by their Jamaican and British colleagues.
The total weight of the cocaine seized was 6.8 metric tonnes, the Constabulary Communication Network said in one of its daily news releases.
"We have reasons to believe it (the cocaine) was destined for Jamaica," ACP Hinds told the Observer. "It's another success," he added. "If we are able to cut off the supply line, it dries up the cash that is at the disposal of the criminal network."
Over the past eight years, Jamaica has emerged as a major transshipment point for cocaine going from Colombia to North America and Europe.
It is estimated that up to 100 tonnes of cocaine a year is shipped through the island, with about 70 per cent of this destined for the United States.
Most of the rest is headed for Britain.
Over the past two years, though, Jamaica's efforts at stopping drug running through the island have reaped some success, resulting in the American and British authorities increasing technical and financial support to local law enforcement agencies.
The successes, however, have driven up the street price of narcotics, and local police now say that a kilogram of cocaine is being sold in Jamaica for as much as US10,000 dollars.
Late month, 1.7 metric tonnes of cocaine were seized from a go-fast boat intercepted in the Caribbean Sea by the HMS Richmond under Operation Kingfish.
Since Operation Kingfish's October 19 launch, more than two dozen boats, which the police suspect are being used in drug smuggling, have been seized.
The task force, which has been mandated to target organised crime gangs and their bosses, has also been destroying several acres of ganja cultivation in rural Jamaica. Police say that the drug is being exported to Haiti in exchange for guns.