Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
There appears to be a belief in diplomatic circles that the region needs to devise strategies to make its borders impervious to the tentacles of increasingly sophisticated hoodlums who are emerging on the global scene.
New deputy chief of mission at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Dr Raymond Brown, is of the view that while the US continues to be "generally" satisfied with the extradition arrangements (under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) with Jamaica, more could be done by Caribbean states to bolster and strengthen border patrol in the region.
"The Caribbean as a political unit is particularly vulnerable to transnational crime," Brown asserted during an interview at the US Embassy in Liguanea.
"The pressures for cooperation within the Caribbean - the sharing of intelligence for the tracking of criminals; the movement of certain patterns of criminal enterprise that affect the region - suggest a compelling need for a more cohesive regional response; harmonisation of regional policy and a cooperation of regional law-enforcement institutions in a way that deals with these issues that are beyond the capacities of any one country," he added.
New crimes emerging
Brown contended that new types of crimes are emerging where there is no statute to effectively prosecute them.
"So it calls for the harmonisation of national security law around the region so that criminals can't pick and choose their places of operations in ways that make them relatively impervious to law enforcement and effective prosecution," he said.
Brown stressed that security is a collective issue and not unique to any one political jurisdiction.
"The nature of contemporary crime is transnational in scope, which requires international coordination," he said.
"We are beginning to see the coordination among police forces, and national intelligence units tracking criminal enterprises and organised crime meet periodically to share information that wasn't taking place before."
In relation to extradition of criminals, Brown said the treaty-based relationship and the patterns of practice with respect to the treatment of violent criminals were, in general terms, satisfactory.
"Most of these events take place without ever getting into the news as they have become almost procedural," he said.
He noted that in the strictest sense, all bilateral arrangements related to extradition treaties preceded Independence.
The US diplomat noted that there has been a long pattern of practice in the post-Independence period as well for the extradition of criminals, suspects and persons of interest by both governments.
"This is done within the framework of our mutual assistance treaties and our mutual concern about managing the challenges of violent crimes and the extent to which this is associated with narcotic trafficking ... . We have a good practice over the long term," Brown said.
However, both Jamaica and the US have, in the past, had their disagreements over the extradition of specific individuals.
Controversy shrouded the extradition of Richard 'Storyteller' Morrison in the early 1990s under the People's National Party administration.
The Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition affair in 2010 strained relations with the US and is believed to have brought down former Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Extraditions to the US were energised in 1999 when the Jamaican Government, with the assistance of the US government, formed a special Jamaican Fugitive Apprehension Team to target and apprehend fugitives from the law in America.