THE Marine Police yesterday seized approximately 3,285 pounds of marijuana during an operation in Hellshire Pond, St Catherine -- an area that they say had been under the radar for the past several months.
Police say the weed, the biggest find ever by the Marine Police, has an estimated street value of over $15 million. It was destined to be unloaded in the deadly guns-for-drugs trade between Jamaica and its neighbour Haiti. However, no one was arrested in connection with the find.
"We believe we have made a major dent in the ongoing drugs-for-guns trade with this seizure," commented Assistant Superintendent of Police Adrian Hamilton, who is assigned to the Marine Police Division in Kingston.
The police report that about 12:30 am, members from the Marine Division were on patrol in the remote area when they saw two high-powered, 28-foot canoes with two men aboard. They claimed the men, who were acting in a "suspicious manner", ran on the approach of the police team.
"A search was carried out and the two high-powered boats found laden with vegetable matter, which turned out to be marijuana," Hamilton told the Jamaica Observer.
Three 45-gallon drums filled with fuel were also removed from the vessels.
Yesterday it took the police team several hours to unload the compressed marijuana from the seized boats. The quantity of the weed meant it had to be transported to the Marine Police headquarters in downtown Kingston by five pickup vans.
Hamilton, meanwhile, issued a warning that the police will be hunting for those who are responsible for the weed. He also thanked members for the Marine Police Division for their hard work.
The Marine Police, in an aggressive drive to clamp down on criminals using the high seas to carry out their illicit activities, seized a total of 44 vessels in a series of operations across the island between January and July.
Hamilton told the Observer yesterday that several of the vessels were equipped with high-powered engines used by criminals to transport drugs and guns in Jamaica's waters.
"These were all confiscated in the first seven months of the year," Hamilton emphasised.
Meanwhile, Commanding Officer for the Marine Division, Superintendent Terrence Sancko, said that in addition to the seizures, police confiscated several thousand pounds of marijuana, which surpassed the 5,713-pound haul made last year.
"For 2013, we [are seeing a] 10 per cent increase in terms of our arrests, marine patrols and in other areas," disclosed Hamilton.