An airport employee at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay was placed under arrest on Sunday after being connected to the confiscation of one kilogram of cocaine. Details regarding the identity of the airport worker have not been released, and the authorities have said that investigations are still underway. The cocaine was found on Sunday while security checks were taking place. Cocaine was found in two packages inside a ground-handling vehicle.
When the packages were discovered, the vehicle operator allegedly attempted to escape the scene and was quickly caught by Narcotics and Canine Division members. According to investigators involved with the case, the cocaine has been estimated to have a US street value of about $50,000. According to the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in the United States, Jamaica is a popular transit point for cocaine making its way to Europe and North America. It is also cited as one of the largest sources of illegal marijuana being brought into the United States.
Jamaica’s popularity as a transit point for cocaine can be seen by its recent history with the illicit substance. On April 26th, a cocaine bust of approximately $75 million worth of the drug was seized during police operations in western Jamaica. Also, last month on April 7th, a Jamaican police officer, Chelian Allen, pleaded guilty to smuggling over 1,000 grams of cocaine from Jamaica into the United States. At the time of her arrest, taking place on February 3rd, Allen was still an officer of the law employed by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Part IV of The Dangerous Drugs Act in Jamaica makes it very clear that cocaine is not something considered to be a minor offense in the country. Importing or exporting cocaine, selling or distributing cocaine, or using any premises for cocaine use or manufacture are all offenses against the act. Still, the country continues to fight against the illegal importation and exportation of the drug. When the drug can fetch up to $45,000 USD in some areas of the United States, the pull is just too strong for some and leads to attempted illegal exportation.
In the past, there have been attempts to smuggle out enormous sums of cocaine (relative to more recent attempts). In December of 2020, a Mr. Kimauly Hoyles was arrested for attempting to smuggle 611 pounds (or 278 kilograms) of cocaine into the United States. Hoyles, an airport employee, had 239 packages of cocaine seized from the airport vehicle he was in charge of at Norman Manley International Airport. Mr. Hoyles was charged on December 10th with possession of cocaine, attempting to export cocaine, trafficking cocaine, and conspiracy to export cocaine.
Another more recent attempt that was large in scale took place on April 12th and ended with the seizure of $300 million worth of cocaine. On April 6th, a vessel with three men who claimed to be fishermen called for assistance from the Coast Guard of the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) after experiencing mechanical difficulties while out at sea.
THE JDF towed the vessel to Pedro Bank, where it was found that proper documentation needed by the fisheries department was not aboard the vessel. JCF was alerted, and the men were charged with breaching the Fisheries Act. The boat vessel was searched, and 141 packages of cocaine weighing two kilograms each were discovered in secret compartments.
While Jamaica has issues with cocaine, travelers need not worry too much about any adverse effects on their visit to the country. The crime that is more commonly known to affect travelers are typically petty theft, street scams, or drink spiking. That is not to say that these crimes run rampant, but they are something to be aware of during a visit to the country. Travelers should not spend their vacation with alarm bells ringing but rather on alert for anything that seems suspicious.
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