The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), in collaboration with its international partners, has seized more than $4 billion worth of cocaine and ganja estimated at just under $1 billion at sea since late 2018.
And while the JDF has not seen the expected increase in the seizure of illegal firearms, Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Rocky Meade says the cooperation is making a dent in organised crime, which he identified as the greatest security challenge facing Jamaica at this time.
“[It is] much less weapons than we would like to find, but operations continue as we think they were planning to sell the drugs to purchase weapons, so if we seize the drugs we are stopping the flow of weapons indirectly as well,” General Meade yesterday told a joint media briefing with Admiral Craig Faller, the top US military official in the region.
Faller is the commander of the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which is responsible for providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation in its assigned area of responsibility, including Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
According to General Meade, the JDF has been working very closely with SOUTHCOM and other international agencies to fight organised crime.
“We share information and we work jointly in trying to counter the illicit trafficking from the organised criminals,” he said.
SOUTHCOM also operates the hospital ship USNS Comfort, which recently docked in Jamaica and provided medical assistance to scores of Jamaicans.
This forms part of SOUTHCOM’s ‘Enduring Promise’ initiative, which is designed to reflect the ongoing commitment of the US to friendship, partnership, and solidarity with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
The USNS Comfort left Jamaica for Haiti. (Jamaica Observer)