A new report by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has found that Jamaica remains the largest illicit producer and exporter of cannabis herb in Central America and the Caribbean.
The INCB 2014 report, which showed that the island accounted for approximately one third of cannabis herb produced in the Caribbean, said that increased production of the drug has been noted in other countries, in particular Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Below is that section of the International Narcotics Control Board’s 2014 report that relates directly to Jamaica.
Jamaica remains the largest illicit producer and exporter of cannabis herb in Central America and the Caribbean, accounting for approximately one third of cannabis herb produced in the Caribbean. Increased production of the drug has been noted in other countries, in particular Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Jamaica has also become a hub for the trafficking of cocaine, owing to the displacement of trafficking routes as a result of the strengthening of drug trafficking countermeasures in Latin America. Compounding the problem is the fact that Jamaican criminal groups are using the elaborate networks originally established to traffic cannabis to traffic cocaine as well.
In Jamaica, drug trafficking takes place at airports (via drug couriers, baggage and air freight) and at seaports (via containers, cargo vessels, underwater canisters attached to ship hulls, fishing vessels and speedboats). Illicit drugs are traded for money, guns and other goods, and much of the proceeds are used to foster criminal activities.
The ports of Kingston and Montego Bay, which are used for the bulk movement of containerized shipments of cannabis herb and cocaine to Europe and North America, continue to experience serious issues involving corruption, violence, intimidation and the circumvention of legal controls. In addition, illicit drugs are often attached to the bottom of shipping vessels destined for Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2013, Jamaica had the Caribbean’s second-highest reported murder rate (behind the much smaller Saint Kitts and Nevis), with 1,197 homicides, up 9 per cent from 1,099 in 2012. In 2013, the Government of Jamaica eradicated 247 hectares of cannabis plant, compared with 711 ha in 2012. The total area of cannabis plant cultivation in Jamaica was estimated at 15,000 hectares, out of total arable land of approximately 120,000 hectares. Statistics indicate that 30,900 kg of cannabis were seized in 2013, compared with 66,832 kg in 2012. Cannabis trafficking organizations in Jamaica focus on trafficking directly to Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as to the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, for onward shipment to Europe and North America. Tere has also been a significant increase in shipments of cannabis herb to Barbados, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Curaçao, in some cases in exchange for cocaine trafficked back to Jamaica. Heroin and “ecstasy” have entered the Jamaican domestic market in small amounts only during the past few years.
With respect to cocaine, official statistics indicate that 1,230 kg of cocaine were seized in Jamaica in 2013, compared with 338 kg in 2012. Organized criminal groups from South and Central America and local groups continue to take advantage of the country’s weak State and police structures. Corruption, along with porous maritime borders, with isolated beaches and coastal villages, and the country’s status as a popular tourist destination and major container trans-shipment point, further facilitate the trafficking of illicit drugs between Jamaica and North America, Europe and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Central America and the Caribbean
In the report, Jamaica is placed in the wider context of Central America and the Caribbean. This is a summary of the situation in this region:
Owing to its geographical location and weak governing institutions, the Central America and the Caribbean region continues to be exploited by local gangs and international organized criminal groups as a transit and trans-shipment route for illicit drugs originating in South America and destined for consumer markets in North America and Europe. Local consumption of illegal drugs also appears to be growing in many countries of the region. In addition, security challenges associated with the drug trade, including high levels of violence, money-laundering, corruption and other illicit activities, are pressing issues for countries of the region.