Editorial

A chance to combat the illegal arms trade

Tuesday, April 30, 2013    

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Any legal measure implemented by local and foreign law enforcement agencies to combat the drug trade is welcomed by this newspaper.

For we are resolute in our belief that the trafficking of narcotics is a most abominable crime for which those found guilty must feel the full weight of the law.

We regard drug dealers as the scum of the earth who destroy people's lives to enrich themselves. They also inflict great damage to the image of countries and place in jeopardy the ability of those countries to attract investment that can help lift people out of poverty.

For decades, Jamaica's good name and reputation, gained through hard work and immense sacrifice by true patriots, have suffered at the hands of these criminals who believe in the acquisition of personal fortune at any expense.

It is with that in mind that we welcome the new technology being tested by the United States Navy and Coast Guard in the fight against drug trafficking and hope that it will prove effective.

Basically, the technology consists of aerial surveillance equipment that, US officials tell us, will make it easier to detect, track, and videotape the actions of drug smugglers.

One of the devices being tested on the US Navy high-speed vessel Swift is a large, white balloon-like craft known as an aerostat, which is tethered up to 2,000 feet above the stern of the ship. The other is a type of drone that can be launched by hand from the deck.

According to US Navy and Coast Guard officials, as well as the contractors who hope the US Government will purchase the devices, the equipment expands the ability of Navy and Coast Guard personnel to see what's beyond their horizon.

"The devices should allow authorities to detect and monitor suspected drug shipments from afar for longer sustained periods, giving them a better chance of stopping the smugglers. They also should allow them to make continuous videotapes that can be used in prosecutions," an Associated Press report published in yesterday's Jamaica Observer told us.

The story reports Chief Chris Sinclair, assistant officer in charge of a law enforcement detachment on board the Swift, as saying that the technology will give law enforcement agencies an edge.

We share that view, and hope that its use will extend beyond the activities of drug smugglers. For one of the major problems affecting the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, is the trade in illegal guns and ammunition.

For too long arms traffickers have been using the high seas to transport their deadly cargo south. The upshot has been increases in murder in countries where firearms and ammunition are not manufactured.

Jamaica has, for some time now, lobbied the American Government to play a more proactive role in stemming the flow of arms from the USA.

The technology now being tested by the US Navy and Coast Guard in the Florida Straits certainly provides an opportunity to meet that request.

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