Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Old Harbour crackdown

Published:Tuesday | February 25, 2020 | 12:07 AM

Two weeks after a Gleaner exposé about drug trafficking and gunrunning between Jamaica and Haiti through Old Harbour Bay, the security forces have turned up the heat on boatmen involved in the illicit trade, netting more than a dozen detainees.

Knowledgeable sources of the drugs-for-guns barter had recounted how fisherfolk middlemen in boats equipped with powerful engines and laden with up to 3,000 pounds of ganja – and sometimes kilos of cocaine – profited by selling automatic rifles and handguns to deep-pocketed businessmen and gangsters based in Jamaica’s cities.

The security forces have since intensified their drive to dismantle criminal operations in Old Harbour Bay.

Commander of the St Catherine South Police Division, Senior Superintendent Clive Blair, confirmed to The Gleaner yesterday that targeted operations by the security forces last week had reaped results.

“Yes, a number of men were detained by the security forces last week in an operation in both Old Harbour proper and the Bay area and are now being processed. That’s all I can say right now,” said Blair.

Meanwhile, residents of Old Harbour Bay have confirmed the increased presence by the security forces in the coastal area. However, they said the mastermind had still managed to elude the lawmen’s dragnet.

“The police and soldier them all over the place, but they can’t catch the main man; only the foot soldiers them get catch,” stated one resident, who asked not to be identified.

“They flying drones in the air near the shoreline, but the main man know how to tek weh himself and hide him boat. It going to be hard for them to catch him,” the resident observed.

About 2,400 guns enter Jamaica’s shores illegally via 145 uncontrolled ports of entry every year. But seizures by the security forces have not kept pace with the illegal inflows.

Gun crimes have remained top of mind for Jamaicans, as 198 people were killed up to February 22. That is 10 per cent more than the 180 murders recorded for the corresponding period last year.