Within hours of new drug detection equipment being installed at Jamaica`s two international airports last weekend, five suspected smugglers were in the bag.
The five “mules” were all headed for Britain and ironically were caught by new technology provided by the British government under a new anti-drug deal struck between the two countries.
The ion scanners came into use on Saturday, and by Sunday had caught three female suspects at Kingston`s Norman Manley airport and two males at Montego Bay`s Sangster International airport, the main gateway in and out for the millions of tourists who visit the island each year.
Four of the suspects were Jamaicans and one was British. All had—in true drug-mule fashion—apparently swallowed the drug in either condoms, balloons, or the cut-off fingers of rubber gloves, a high-ranking Jamaican police officer said in a telephone interview yesterday.
The scanners and other measures are part of a new initiative against drugs, particularly cocaine, which has made Jamaica one of the major transshipment points for smugglers moving the Latin American-produced cocaine into the lucrative markets of North America and Europe.
In a meeting with The Star`s Editorial Board recently, Jamaica`s Minister of National Security Peter Phillips revealed that an estimated 10 per cent of the 1 million kilograms of cocaine that in 2001 went into Canada, the United States and Europe from Latin America, flowed through relatively small Jamaica, which did not produce any of the cocaine.
In return, the narco-terrorism spawned by the gangs raking in astronomical profits from handling the in-transit drug shipments, has caused huge crime and violence problems, mainly in the island`s capital city, Kingston.