US train marine police and JDF coast guards to counter illicit activities at sea!
Preventing illicit traffickers from traversing Jamaica's territorial waters at will should become easier for the security forces to tackle since some members of the Jamaica Defence Force's (JDF) Coast Guard and the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Marine Police have been exposed to specialised small-boat operations training, conducted by United States (US) Navy personnel.
Lt Col Pablo Raggio, senior defence official, defence attachÈ at the US Embassy in Kingston, told The Gleaner that the purpose of the training is to equip the security forces with the relevant knowledge to counter any type of illicit activity at sea.
"They are training them to improve techniques, tactics, and procedures on how to conduct counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and everything counter-illicit - even how to safeguard Jamaica's sovereign territory and the sea domain from illegal fishing," stated Raggio.
Cpl Carlos Curtis, subofficer in charge of operations for the Marine Division of the JCF, highlighted some of the challenges faced by the personnel charged with the task of policing Jamaica's waters, which creates the necessity for the training.
"We are doing our best to tighten up on the (territorial waters). This course is as a result of us trying to get more persons trained in how to handle the vessels so that we can go into the nitty gritty of the spaces that criminals tend to favour.
"From Morant Point to Negril Point, we have a lot of unmanned spaces, especially in the mangrove areas where culprits do business. The space is very wide. Unlike a road, where you can say that this is the only route that they can take into a particular area, in the water, there are several routes, several avenues you can take. You can go south or north and end up at the same location," Curtis told The Gleaner.
Clamping down on illegal fishing was a major focus of the training, which, Curtis said, is mostly handled by the JDF Coast Guard.
"We (the police) assist the soldiers as much as possible. They cover a lot more space than we do. The integral inner waters, we take care of that, but they are better equipped to deal with that part of it. They were the ones who held on to the Dominicans the other day. There were 32 of them fishing illegally in our waters."