Schoolboys, young men flock downtown Kingston for Viagra, Cialis and other drugs from illegal pharmacists
A chance encounter in a barber shop in downtown Kingston last week sparked a major probe by The Sunday Gleaner that has unearthed a dangerous and possibly deadly practice.
Schoolboys, some as young as 15, and young men are buying erectile-dysfunction drugs, including Viagra, Cialis and other so-called sexual enhancers, including Black Stone - a potent desensitiser that stops premature ejaculation.
A thriving underground market for pills, estimated to value millions of dollars, has mushroomed in the heart of the city.
From rum bars to corner shops and deep inside some lanes, these drugs and sexual enhancers are available for prices ranging from $500 to $1,800.
Stimulated by a perceived need to improve their sexual performance, an increasing number of young males - some little more than boys - are penetrating the underworld in search of the so-called sex boosters.
Asked why he was using Viagra at such a tender age, one teenager said: "We are not satisfied that we are able to satisfy our girls. Lovemaking is war," he chuckled. "If you don't perform they (the girls) will diss you ... so when me done wid har, she can't chat to me."
Added the young man: "When we take de things dem and put it on them (females), them haffi bawl."
The Sunday Gleaner explorations took us to the deepest recesses of the downtown business district.
Readily available in the deep underbelly of the black-market system are the customary blue-coloured Viagra and the yellowish brown Cialis, both of which are growing as favourites among young men, who claim that having tested the potency of these drugs they are delighted.
According to the young men, they harbour no fear of any negative effect of the drug. "We are clearly not dead," one young man quipped.
However, medical doctors have warned that these performance-enhancing drugs are not designed to be like 'sex candy'.
"These are serious prescriptive medications,"warned Dr Stanhope Maxwell, a sexual dysfunction specialist.
"These arousal drugs can also cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and trigger heart attack, stroke, chest pain, heart palpitations and sudden death," added Maxwell.
A package of tiny white tablets called 'boom', 'gungu' or 'yana' that was on full display contrasted with the colourful Viagra and Cialis. That, too, was in demand. "This one makes you yawn," explained a so-called user.
As we explored their claims of the alleged mysteries and magic of the drugs, the vendor shared: "Is not old men who take it, it's young men between 20 and 40, and sometimes younger."
She told The Sunday Gleaner that on a daily basis she sells more than 10 of each tablet daily, a total of at least 60 sexual enhancers.
A blue capsule called 'Extenze' is also readily available. As we spoke with a retailer of the drug, he produced six light blue capsules marked 'male enhancement nutritional supplement'.
The label on the Extenze package also claimed that it was 'good for size, pleasure and performance'.
The Sunday Gleaner team was later introduced to another location, where other sexual enhancers, including 'Stud 100', 'Black Ants' and 'Hard 10 Day', were available for sale.
Then there is a tablet described as a plant or herbal Viagra.
"This one bad like yaz," one man declared in reference to the green-coloured tablet, which is similar in shape to the original Viagra.
The label of the so-called plant Viagra claimed that it is renowned in New York, Paris, London and Rome for its potency.
The better-known Black Stone - a sexual enhancer that, unlike the others, is not used orally - is said to be scarce on the market at this time.
During one of the interviews, a seller admitted that the Black Stone was scarce at this time, as he dispatched a courier for a supply.
The man returned 10 minutes later with the chocolate-brown product encased in plastic with Chinese writings. "A pinch can command attention for a long time," he smirked.
He told The Sunday Gleaner that he had paid $1,200 for the small block of 'stone', sometimes described as a 'brick', that when sliced or 'pinched' into six pieces will fetch a total price of $1,800.
Asked for the source of the drugs, the retailer would only say that he was supplied by members of the downtown business community.
One man boasted that he has tried all of the sexual enhancers and could attest to their powers and potency.
A young woman who is employed to sell the product at a location that is clearly well known to the men pointed to the range of products on the market.
They were strategically placed in front of the range of hard liquors on one of the shelves.
The young saleswoman told The Sunday Gleaner that sexual enhancers are in high demand. "Dem sell, man, dem sell, especially in the evenings when the little boy dem come in to do them thing."
She said Viagra and Cialis were high on the demand list.
One man who boasted of his prowess under the influence of the drug said he preferred Cialis, as it was good for his diabetes.
Asked how he knew of the other benefits of Cialis, the man said he was informed by his doctor.
However, he said he opted to access the product underground as it was so readily available, instead of the hassle of visiting a medical practitioner for a prescription.