Press Clippings

Record Drug Hall - 17 Oct 02
A Jamaica Defence Force Helicopter packed with bails of
 cocaine seized in Belmont, Westmoreland yesterday.
The drugs were flown to Kingston.

In what is being bailed as the largest drug bust in the nation’s history, just over 1.227 kilos (2,700 pounds) of cocaine valued at J$339 million (J$37 million) was seized by the narcotics police in Belmont, Westmoreland yesterday.

The police also seized a 35-foot speed boat with two 200 horsepower engines; two satellite phones; a cellular phone; two letters written in Spanish and a map of South America, with certain sections of it highlighted in bright coloured ink.

The find was a joint effort between the Colombian police and about 30 personnel from the Area One Narcotics Police and their counterparts at Narcotics Headquarters and the Area Three and Westmoreland police.  Police claim yesterday’s bust has crippled a major drug network between Colombian and Jamaican cartels.

Commenting on the seizure, head of Narcotics Divisions, Senior Superintendent Carl Williams said: “This is the biggest drug bust we have ever had, but first and foremost, I want to publicly commend the Narcotics police and the Jamaica Defence Force for a job well done.  They went above and beyond. They stayed with it, even when it seemed there was not going to be a success, they persevered and I am very pleased with their performance, ” he said.

The operation was carried out in Belmont, a district close to Bluefields, Westmoreland.

The police also seized 11.3 kilos (25 pounds) of cured ganja wrapped in packages mid ready for the streets, but no arrests were made in connection with the seize.

Senior Supt. Williams said the investigation was just developing.  “In drug matters, arrests don’t necessarily happen at the same time as a seizure.”

Since January, police have seized 4,877 pounds of cocaine in different parts of the island.

The police party had been lying in swampy lands in Westmoreland from as early as 8:30 p.m. on Monday, but the operation actually lasted for about 11 hours.    According to Corporal Alva Douglas, the Constabulary Communications Network officer for Westmoreland, at about 7:30 a.m. yesterday, Narcotics officers in conjunction with the JDF raided a house at Belmont where they seized 43 bails of cocaine weighing 1,227 kilograms with a street value of more than $300 million.   However, narcotics agents said, had the drug reached its destination in the US or the United Kingdom, its value would have tripled.

But even as a police party moved the contraband from the Bluefields Station to a JDF helicopter a few chains away under tight security, scores of residents converged at different sections of the road and made disparaging comments about the lawmen, stating they wanted some of it”.

Sen. Supt. Williams said the Narcotics Police and JDF personnel were able to pick up the speed boat at sea, after it was tracked from South America.   They kept it under surveillance until it docked in Belmont where the traffickers unloaded the contraband and placed it in a house.

He said the police stayed with it all night until daybreak when they were able to move in and seize it.

“The boat and other equipment found are now in police custody and we are going to be pursuing our investigations,” he noted.

Commenting on the satellite phones seized, Sen. Supt. Williams said the traffickers were able to by-pass local telecommunications networks and link the caller and the receiving party without possible outside interference.

Meanwhile, speaking in Kingston yesterday, the newly appointed US Ambassador to Jamaica, Sue Cobb, said her government would provide Jamaica with high-tech equipment to boost the detection of guns and contraband at the island’s ports.