Jamaica on US drug list

Named among 22 major producing, transit countries by President Obama

BY KARYL WALKER Editor - Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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JAMAICA has been listed as one of 22 major drug-producing and transit countries by US President Barack Obama, according to information released Monday by the US Department of State.


However, Minister of National Security Peter Bunting did not appear overly worried about the listing as he said Jamaica has been included in that category for some time now.


"... From memory, Jamaica has been on that list every year since I became spokesman on national security in 2008," Bunting replied to the Jamaica Observer, via text messaging, from a Cabinet retreat, yesterday.


A media note from the State Department said, that under the Foreign Relations Authorisation Act, the president is required to notify Congress of those countries he determines to be major illicit drug-producing countries or major drug-transit countries that "significantly affect the United States" every year.


A country's presence on the list does not necessarily reflect its counter-narcotics efforts or its level of co-operation with the United States on illicit drug control.


The Department of State said the designation can reflect a combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to be produced and/or trafficked through a country.


Jamaica and four other Caribbean countries -- Belize, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti -- are among 22 named by Obama.


The rest of the list reads: Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.


If a listed country does not fulfil its obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements and conventions, the president could determine that the country has "failed demonstrably" to meet its anti-narcotics obligations - a designation which could lead to sanctions. The president may also execute a National Interest Waiver when he determines there is a vital national interest in continuing US assistance to such countries.


In a report in June, the Department of State cited money laundering in Jamaica as primarily related to proceeds from illegal narcotics and financial scams, and was largely controlled by organised criminal gangs.


In 2010, Jamaica was cited as the largest supplier of marijuana to the United States and a cocaine trans-shipment point.


"Jamaica suffers from one of the highest murder rates in the region. In 2009, violent crime rates increased to civil war levels, with homicides at 64/100,000 ratio. The vast majority of the violent crimes in Jamaica are perpetrated by gang members who use the drug trade to secure weapons which are smuggled mainly from the United States. Increasing organised crime permeates both the legitimate business sector as well as the political sector, undermines the Government of Jamaica's ability to maintain law and order and threatens international security. Jamaica's inadequate police and judicial systems serve as the primary shortcomings in addressing both corruption and crime; they lack the capacity to timely investigate and adjudicate crime," a May 2010 US State Department report stated.



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