200 illegal guns entering Jamaica monthly linked to drug trade - Chang
Dr Horace Chang
Jamaica is literally under the gun with some 200 illegal firearms entering the country each month, according to National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang.
That is at least 2,400 illegal guns entering the country each year and it is directly linked to the drug trade, Chang said.
Chang made the revelation on Wednesday as he closed the 2019-2020 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
The Security Minister told the House that, among those responsible for bringing this volume of illegal weaponry into the country, are the players in the narcotics network from which US$35 million (Ja$4.5 billion) worth of cocaine was seized off the coast of St Thomas on Tuesday.
“…These are the men who bring the guns by the hundreds,” Chang stated.
“We are currently, by my intelligence, getting up to 200 guns coming to Jamaica on a monthly basis. So even when we get (seize) a hundred, we not going anywhere,” he added.
Jamaica’s maritime borders remain porus despite efforts to bolster the capabilities of the security forces and the revelation by the Security Minister is sobering as the gun is used in roughly 80 per cent of the average 1,200 to 1,300 murders that are recorded in the country each year.
Additionally, just a fraction of the illegal guns in the hands of criminals are seized or recovered.
Chang told the House that the seized cocaine was transported to the area by another boat.
Chang also revealed that Jamaica had received information on the operation from its partners, including pictures of the men involved. “But we (the security forces) couldn’t take (catch) them,” he said.
The security minister is aware of what must be done in order to break the back of the crime monster plaguing the country.
“Who we need to catch is not the man who they use to shoot people. (It) is the man who is organising this because what it is telling us...is that operating around Jamaica now are people who have the capacity to deal with 3,000 pounds of coke,” Chang observed.
“The more critical issue is that when this kind of thing is operated, we have a serious and clear threat to our society.
“That is a serious business enterprise and requires the attention of the whole country and the support of the entire country working with the security forces,” Chang stressed.
Meanwhile, a release from the Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force said the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard handed over 1,193.2 kilogram of cocaine to the Narcotics Police after an anti-narcotics operation about 60 miles south east of Morant Point in St Thomas on Tuesday, July 30.
Reports are that about 5:45 am, the security forces detected and seized 50 bales containing 998 parcels of white substance resembling cocaine.
No one was arrested in connection with the seizure.
The CCU said the seizure resulted from the continued fight against the illicit trade in guns, drugs and human trafficking within Jamaica’s territorial waters.