Caribbean Crime :A Triple Bind
April 1, 2007 Commentary ArchivesSea, sand, sun, drug trafficking, off-shore banking, and foreign dumping of criminals. The Caribbean is a smorgasbord of interesting activity. Criminal drug related activity all.
The Caribbean has now garnered a reputation as a channel for the supply of drugs from our neighbors to our South for the voracious consumption of the U.S and European drug markets.
Nothing new perhaps. But with the repatriation of the criminal element from foreign countries to the Caribbean. This activity is getting a lot of help. Add to this, the phenomenal growth in off-shore banking, which experts say is being created by the laundering of drug money. The unprecedented increase in these off-shore accounts, notable in Antigua, Aruba, St.Maarten, and the Caymans is causing concern.Drug Trafficking
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) points out in it's 2007 report that the cocaine trade has slackened in most parts of the world, due to successful law enforcement. But in 2006 Europe: UK, Italy, and Spain-- Spain in particular has seen a growing demand for cocaine, higher than that of the United States. Followed by the U.K.
To feed this demand traffickers have intensify their search for easy routes. They're probing the area for safe channels to move their drugs North, with the use of small planes and yachts throughout the Caribbean. To supply the American and the European demand for cannabis (ganja) and cocaine. Collateral Damage
The collateral effect from this activity has reach a heighten alert status for Caribbean leaders.
Two notable Caribbean states: Jamaica and Trinidad are busting with crime. According to Freedom in The World: from 2001 to 2004 kidnappings in Trinidad increased from 10 to 150 per year. Amnesty International states that "in 2005 approximately 235 kidnappings occurred in Trinidad, about 54 of these were for ransom."
A T&T National security official states that: "Sixty-five percent of all serious crimes committed in Trinidad and Tobago is related to the illicit drug trade. T&T has the highest kidnapping rate in the world. Next to Columbia.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report in 2002 titled "Crime Trends in the Caribbean and Solutions," in which it states that Jamaica's drug culture has been a contributing factor to the increasing crime rate. This report also suggest that there's a strong connection between drug-trafficking and the increased murder rates in Jamaica.
Jamaica has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. It showed improvement last year with a 20 percent drop from 2005, However, 2007 has seen over 314 murders so far including the March 18 murder of Pakistan's cricket coach.
Repatriation of the Criminal Element
Adding to the woes of the Caribbean states are nationals who choose to violate the laws of their foreign host countries and are deported to their original place of birth. Most of these nationals were interred in these foreign countries for drug infractions and drug dealing.
Given the intensity of drug trafficking activity in the Caribbean, and the collateral effect caused by this activity on the local population. These criminal have found a new home.
Lucrative off-shore Banking
The increase in off-shore banking in the Caribbean is bound to attract those seeking to keep their business secret. Sadly it offers those seeking to hide they criminal intent, a safe haven.
These transactions are not easy to trace because these banks has laws that keep depositors transactions secret. These moneys can then be transferred through other banking institutions legitimately. A process referred to as money-laundering.
According to the authorities in 2005 Antigua licensed 27 off-shore banks over a period of two years. These activities has caused Caribbean law-enforcement officials to express concerns about sharing drug-trafficking and money laundering information with Antigua.
For many of the Caribbean islands the struggle against poverty, high unemployment, and other social ills is ongoing.
How ironic is the the dumping of the criminal element in the Caribbean by foreign countries. These criminals are just as much a result of their societies high demand for cocaine smuggled through the Caribbean. Which the Caribbean islands spend great resources to interdict and protect their borders.
The Caribbean is then used as a dumping ground for these elements, to wreak havoc on our societies. Further adding to our troubles.
Our justice systems are stretched so badly. There're years of backlog of criminal prosecutions.
The cost of enforcement by customs to stop drug-trafficking activity are stretching our resources. In many cases sixty percent of manpower resources are being used for border enforcement.