JG - US, Jamaica partnership to fight drug smugglers
US, Jamaica partnership to fight drug smugglers
published: Thursday May 18, 2006
Damion Mitchell, News Coordinator - Radio
Coast Guards from the Jamaica Defence Force and the United States Ship (USS) Monterey, on a drug raid demonstration off the coast of Port Royal in Kingston on Tuesday. The USS Monterey was in Jamaica for a two-day training exercise. - JUNIOR DOWIE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
IT'S MIDNIGHT and maritime law enforcement officers suspect a major drug smuggling exercise is about to unfold at sea.
Instantly, two high-speed security vessels take off for the smugglers, but their decent must be a surprise.
By now, a law enforcement helicopter is hovering in front of the suspected drug boat and its worried crew gathers on the deck.
Within 30 seconds, the soldiers quietly disembark their high-speed vessels, board the drug boat and command control.
This was the scenario on Tuesday, as 18 Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers ended their two-day training with navy officers from the United States Ship (USS) Monterey.
The training was part of the Partnership of the Americas Programme focussing on security and protection from terrorist attacks, cooperation in border security and narcotics interdiction.
According to commanding officer for the JDF Coast Guard, Sydney Innis, such training partnerships are significant.
"When you train for maritime interdiction you cover a gamut of scenarios that you may encounter," he told The Gleaner aboard the USS Monterey off the coast of Port Royal, Kingston. In adding that the soldiers were also exposed to search and rescue and custody of evidence techniques.
Commander Innis said as part of the two-day exercise, the Jamaican soldiers were also exposed to other ways of conducting interdiction activities. Additionally Com-mander Innis said the JDF will ensure that programmes are put in place for the reinforcement of the knowledge acquired though the programme.
Vice-president of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Superinten-dent James Forbes, said given that Jamaica was a major transhipment point for drugs going into the United States, it is critical that relationships be strengthened with that government.
"There is a humongous problem with drug trafficking and if we can partner in law enforcement to fight the menace, that is a big benefit," he said.
In the meantime, Superintendent Forbes says coastal surveillance has been improved with the commissioning of the HMS Cornwall and the HMS Middlesex and he says this is expected to be further enhanced when the police beef up their surveillance programmes.
According to Superintendent Forbes, only recently the Jamaican Government signed an anti-crime Memorandum of Understanding with the Colombian Government and he says further efforts are being made to tighten the relationship with regional governments.
"The smugglers are on the run and we are going to keep them that way," he warned.
Commander Robert Oldani is the captain of the 360-crew-member USS Monterey.
"Hemispheric stability is very important," he said "Narcotics trafficking and human trafficking are counter to our aims and we think that our mere presence (in the Caribbean) deters that type of activity," he said.