Glenroy Sinclair and Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writers
Years after they smashed an international drug ring operating in Montego Bay, St James, with help from nationals of one South American country, the Jamaican police say they are seeing troubling signs of a re-emergence of the deadly cocaine trade here.
This was underscored by senior investigators probing a multimillion-dollar cocaine seizure in St James on Saturday.
A senior investigator attached to the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA) revealed yesterday that major players from the same South American country are at the centre of this new enterprise.
According to the investigator, the enterprise has been linked to at least three murders, which were carried out to exact revenge for missing drugs.
"It appears that the cocaine is coming back and it is as a result of collusion between them (nationals of the South American country) and Jamaicans," said the investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The investigator estimates that at least 90 per cent of the cocaine, also known as the white lady, coming into the island is from the same South American country and is being sent here for redistribution locally and overseas.
"I don't think anything is coming from the other sources (countries)," the senior investigator insisted.
In 2008, St Ann businessman Norris 'Deedo' Nembhard and four other Jamaican men were extradited to the United States to face cocaine charges. Investigators believed they were part of an international drug ring that also involved nationals from Panama, Colombia and Cuba.
National security and police officials believe the multibillion-dollar lottery scam resulted from the vacuum created by the smashing of the drug ring.
Stash found in vehicle
On Saturday, detectives from MOCA and the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division, with support from members of the Jamaica Defence Force, intercepted a vehicle carrying 66 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $264 million along the Mount Carey main road in St James.
Private security providers Guardsman Limited yesterday acknowledged, through its Chief Executive Officer David Whittaker, that the vehicle was from its fleet.
The company also confirmed that one of its security contractors was one of the two men apprehended by the police in connection with the massive drug find.
Stunned by the seizure, Whittaker told The Gleaner yesterday that Guardsman has launched an internal probe to determine if any of its systems had been breached.
"We have started our own investigations to see where exactly there was a breakdown," he said in response to questions about how the cocaine got into the vehicle.
Whittaker could not confirm, up to late yesterday, whether the second man in police custody was attached to the company.
He said if it is determined that the man is not attached to Guardsman, that would be a breach of company policy.
Investigators said the two men, whose identities are being withheld, would be interviewed and could face criminal charges.
General manager in charge of operations at Guardsman, Major Ricardo Blackwood, also sought to distance the company from any involvement, saying "we do not in any way stand for what is allegedly individuals conducting unlawful activity".
Blackwood said the security contractor implicated has been relieved of all duties with immediate effect until the investigation is complete.