Jamaicans Run Trinidad and Tobago Drug Networks: Report

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Media in Trinidad and Tobago say they have obtained a secret intelligence report detailing how Jamaicans have set up extensive drug trafficking networks on the islands. However, with the report following on the heels of officials blaming Jamaican immigrants for the country’s security problems, the timing of the leak looks suspect.

Newspaper the Trinidad Express and TV station TV6 News reported that they had obtained an intelligence report — submitted to the government’s National Security Council in mid-October — that describes the involvement of Jamaican criminals in the island’s drug trade.

According to the report, the traffickers import Jamaican marijuana into Trinidad and Tobago, then exchange it for cocaine. The cocaine is then smuggled to North America or Europe via direct routes or by way of Jamaica.

The intelligence report also reportedly described how Jamaican criminals have set up their own cells in Trinidad and Tobago because they do not trust local traffickers, who often steal drugs or underpay suppliers. However, it is unclear whether the Jamaicans still source cocaine from local dealers or if they work directly with South American suppliers.

The report also reportedly documented several techniques used by Jamaican traffickers, including paying “mules” to carry the drugs, allegedly bribing port authorities to wave through shipments and even brining in scuba divers to retrieve loads from the sea.

According to the Trinidad Express, the report also included a detailed account of how Jamaicans “intentionally try to mislead” Trinidad and Tobago immigration authorities.  

InSight Crime Analysis

The leak of this intelligence report to Trinidad and Tobago media comes shortly after the island’s National Security Minister made controversial comments blaming the country’s crime and gang problems on Jamaican immigrants — timing that may well be more than coincidence.

The document’s apparent emphasis on describing immigration issues with little relevance to organized crime — such as Jamaicans with no reported criminal history overstaying visas, or how illegal Jamaican immigrants work in strip clubs or security — certainly supports the notion the release of the report is connected to the minister’s comments and the ongoing row between the countries over immigration.

However, while there is a danger that the information in the leaked intelligence report will be used to scapegoat immigrants, it does not mean that it’s not true. Jamaica is a major marijuana producer and cocaine transit point, and is home to sophisticated and violent criminal structures that have at times operated in foreign countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Given this level of experience, it is certainly possible such groups would look to manage drug trafficking networks on nearby islands.

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