Jamaica Finds New Ways to Combat Illicit Trafficking

Jamaica Finds New Ways to Combat Illicit Trafficking

By Dialogo
February 04, 2015





Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, Jamaica was occupied by the Spanish since 1509. In 1655, the island was captured by the English and confirmed as a British possession by the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. Self-government was introduced in 1944, and gradually extended until Jamaica achieved complete independence on 6 August 1962.

Over time, the island nation became known worldwide by its music – reggae and Bob Marley especially – and as a sort of free-spirited place, where the consumption of marijuana though illegal, was tolerated.

Unfortunately, this relaxed image was mistaken by some people as a safe haven in which drug trafficking lords began to establish their bases. Like other nations in the region, violent crime escalated, particularly in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. Although the presence of security and anti-crime troops has intensified in major urban areas in recent years, drug- and gang-related violence, including shootings, continues to be a significant problem.

To talk about this and other issues, Diálogo
spoke with Major General Antony B. Anderson, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) during the XIII Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), held in Nassau, Bahamas, from 20-23 January 2015.

DIÁLOGO:
How has illicit trafficking really affected Jamaica?

Major General Antony Anderson:
Illicit trafficking has been a sort of feature there for quite some time now. In the early days, it was really the exportation of marijuana that is grown in Jamaica, and that was being exported to those markets that wanted [it] and so on. Later on, perhaps in the ‘90s maybe, you started to see an inflow of cocaine into Jamaica and Jamaica being used as transshipment port for cocaine. That kind of changed the face of things a bit until the early part of the 2000s, when a significant amount of the cocaine going into the United States came through Jamaica.

DIÁLOGO:
What changed?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Through some joint and multi-national and multi-agency efforts probably, five of the largest traffickers who were Jamaicans were captured, and cases built around them, and they were extradited to the United States where they faced trials and were imprisoned. This caused maybe an 85% drop in the amount of cocaine that passed through Jamaica. The significance of it, of course, is that once you take the head… the head understands the whole network and has the links with other countries, probably the producing countries, [which have links] into the consumer countries, etc. When they get removed, the little guys who support their efforts really have no way of rebuilding that network.

DIÁLOGO:
Did it come back?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
You have a period where it drops significantly. And then over time, depending on what’s happening in other places or [how] difficult it is becoming to traffic through other regions and other routes you may see a tendency for it to start coming back. So you really need to be very aware of what is happening. You have to have good intelligence. You have to have good partners, when you’re trying to deal with those kinds of networks.

DIÁLOGO:
Sir, one of the most prominent cases of those you just mentioned was “Dudus” Coke…
[ Christopher Michael Coke, also known as
Dudus , is a Jamaican drug lord and the former leader of the Shower Posse, a violent drug gang started by his father, Lester Coke, which exported large quantities of marijuana and cocaine into the United States].



Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes.

DIÁLOGO:
In that case, Jamaica worked with other countries, especially with Great Britain if I’m not mistaken, correct?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Right, and the United States…

DIÁLOGO:
Do you consider it to be a success story when it comes to working jointly with other nations to attack a common threat?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, the ones [ narcotraffickers
] I was speaking about actually trafficked more than him [ Coke
].

But were probably less violent. There’s a certain amount of violence that comes with the gang that Dudus was associated with that created a notoriety or that made them more famous.

DIÁLOGO:
We all know that to end this problem, it is not only interdictions, is not only arrests. Can you tell us about the Citizens Security and Justice Program in Jamaica?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
The CSJP funds youth – normally young males – to go to vocational training. After they’ve gone through a period of training at the vocational training center then they come to us and work with our military engineers on projects. And that daily interaction with our engineers, we found, has made them rethink life in general. Apart from that, one day a week we basically teach them life skills. We go into all aspects of money, finance, making themselves employable, things like conflict resolution, how to do things without immediately resorting to violence, which is perhaps a lot of their natural tendency, and so on. We do not insist that they look or become like Soldiers.

DIÁLOGO:
But they end up doing it anyway…

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes! It’s amazing that over time they just start to do it anyway. They start to get a sense of being on time, for instance; and to some people, it’s an entirely foreign concept. [ laughter
]. I mean, you hear all the anecdotal stories, the guy’s coming, the bus breaks down, then he runs all the way a couple of miles to get there on time. Now, those changes may seem like small things. There’s also the changing minds factor, and then going back into the communities with a different mindset, a different way of looking at things.

DIÁLOGO:
On any given day, how many young adults benefit from this program?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
At the high point of our engagement, we had 450 of them; and we average perhaps around 150 to 200 at any given time, with different groups. We keep groups for a year, other groups for six months, six months to a year, depending on where they are. And then we look among the group for leaders, pull them out, and give them leadership training to develop on their natural leadership skills. When the private sector is looking for some people with their skill sets, their qualifications, their sort of vocational skill set, we generally pull them out and go through a process with them to make them able to operate in that kind of environment, how to dress, what they need to do to survive in that environment, and so on.

DIÁLOGO:
How has it worked so far?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Most employers who have hired them have come to our part of the program and asked for more. We prefer to have our young people on the right, with us, behind our guns, than on the other end of it, fighting us.

DIÁLOGO:
Is there any other initiatives such as this one?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
The Minister of National Security has a ‘Unite for Change’ initiative. And that is a whole process of getting the community, the police, civic groups, etc., to unite, to bring about change. And it’s really part of the smart policing concept. So clearly, where people have automatic weapons and the intention of killing you, obviously smart policing doesn’t work there. But sometimes you have communities that are against the police or, us, and our joint efforts. They are told to be that way. They don’t really feel that way, but they are trained like that. Really, there is no success without community support.

DIÁLOGO:
The JDF is comprised of about 4,000 members, correct?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes.

DIÁLOGO
: And you just spoke about the Citizens Security and Justice Program that can reach up to 450 members of the youth population in Jamaica.

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes.

DIÁLOGO
: So, it’s a huge task,, and, I’m going to quote you, you once said that your philosophy is: “The difficult can be done instantly and the impossible only takes a moment longer…” So, do you think that this task just needs a moment longer?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Oh, yes! It can be done! And it’s happening. Very small, but very precise inputs can amplify the success you’re having. There seems to be a formula that is working in terms of how to approach things. I mean, if you speak to academics, you treat violence as an epidemic. It reaches a certain scale. Then the greatest predictor of an act of violence is a preceding one, and the fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter who committed the violence and whether it is legitimate or not. But if you have it, then your chances are you’ll have another. So the way of the world is that you will have acts of violence. But you want to minimize that. So in the discussions we have when we’re talking to the guys about all that, we emphasize that it’s not just whether you’ll justify your actions. But it has to be justifiable. It also has to be necessary. Because it can be justifiable but you really didn’t have a need. But you know you did because you’re justified. So, it’s really just to take that extra step. I’m here, I’m a Soldier saying these things, but I always think that your force, your use of force should be a scalpel and not a sledgehammer because it’s really the cancer you’re after, not the body.




Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, Jamaica was occupied by the Spanish since 1509. In 1655, the island was captured by the English and confirmed as a British possession by the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. Self-government was introduced in 1944, and gradually extended until Jamaica achieved complete independence on 6 August 1962.

Over time, the island nation became known worldwide by its music – reggae and Bob Marley especially – and as a sort of free-spirited place, where the consumption of marijuana though illegal, was tolerated.

Unfortunately, this relaxed image was mistaken by some people as a safe haven in which drug trafficking lords began to establish their bases. Like other nations in the region, violent crime escalated, particularly in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. Although the presence of security and anti-crime troops has intensified in major urban areas in recent years, drug- and gang-related violence, including shootings, continues to be a significant problem.

To talk about this and other issues, Diálogo
spoke with Major General Antony B. Anderson, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) during the XIII Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), held in Nassau, Bahamas, from 20-23 January 2015.

DIÁLOGO:
How has illicit trafficking really affected Jamaica?

Major General Antony Anderson:
Illicit trafficking has been a sort of feature there for quite some time now. In the early days, it was really the exportation of marijuana that is grown in Jamaica, and that was being exported to those markets that wanted [it] and so on. Later on, perhaps in the ‘90s maybe, you started to see an inflow of cocaine into Jamaica and Jamaica being used as transshipment port for cocaine. That kind of changed the face of things a bit until the early part of the 2000s, when a significant amount of the cocaine going into the United States came through Jamaica.

DIÁLOGO:
What changed?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Through some joint and multi-national and multi-agency efforts probably, five of the largest traffickers who were Jamaicans were captured, and cases built around them, and they were extradited to the United States where they faced trials and were imprisoned. This caused maybe an 85% drop in the amount of cocaine that passed through Jamaica. The significance of it, of course, is that once you take the head… the head understands the whole network and has the links with other countries, probably the producing countries, [which have links] into the consumer countries, etc. When they get removed, the little guys who support their efforts really have no way of rebuilding that network.

DIÁLOGO:
Did it come back?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
You have a period where it drops significantly. And then over time, depending on what’s happening in other places or [how] difficult it is becoming to traffic through other regions and other routes you may see a tendency for it to start coming back. So you really need to be very aware of what is happening. You have to have good intelligence. You have to have good partners, when you’re trying to deal with those kinds of networks.

DIÁLOGO:
Sir, one of the most prominent cases of those you just mentioned was “Dudus” Coke…
[ Christopher Michael Coke, also known as
Dudus , is a Jamaican drug lord and the former leader of the Shower Posse, a violent drug gang started by his father, Lester Coke, which exported large quantities of marijuana and cocaine into the United States].



Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes.

DIÁLOGO:
In that case, Jamaica worked with other countries, especially with Great Britain if I’m not mistaken, correct?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Right, and the United States…

DIÁLOGO:
Do you consider it to be a success story when it comes to working jointly with other nations to attack a common threat?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, the ones [ narcotraffickers
] I was speaking about actually trafficked more than him [ Coke
].

But were probably less violent. There’s a certain amount of violence that comes with the gang that Dudus was associated with that created a notoriety or that made them more famous.

DIÁLOGO:
We all know that to end this problem, it is not only interdictions, is not only arrests. Can you tell us about the Citizens Security and Justice Program in Jamaica?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
The CSJP funds youth – normally young males – to go to vocational training. After they’ve gone through a period of training at the vocational training center then they come to us and work with our military engineers on projects. And that daily interaction with our engineers, we found, has made them rethink life in general. Apart from that, one day a week we basically teach them life skills. We go into all aspects of money, finance, making themselves employable, things like conflict resolution, how to do things without immediately resorting to violence, which is perhaps a lot of their natural tendency, and so on. We do not insist that they look or become like Soldiers.

DIÁLOGO:
But they end up doing it anyway…

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes! It’s amazing that over time they just start to do it anyway. They start to get a sense of being on time, for instance; and to some people, it’s an entirely foreign concept. [ laughter
]. I mean, you hear all the anecdotal stories, the guy’s coming, the bus breaks down, then he runs all the way a couple of miles to get there on time. Now, those changes may seem like small things. There’s also the changing minds factor, and then going back into the communities with a different mindset, a different way of looking at things.

DIÁLOGO:
On any given day, how many young adults benefit from this program?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
At the high point of our engagement, we had 450 of them; and we average perhaps around 150 to 200 at any given time, with different groups. We keep groups for a year, other groups for six months, six months to a year, depending on where they are. And then we look among the group for leaders, pull them out, and give them leadership training to develop on their natural leadership skills. When the private sector is looking for some people with their skill sets, their qualifications, their sort of vocational skill set, we generally pull them out and go through a process with them to make them able to operate in that kind of environment, how to dress, what they need to do to survive in that environment, and so on.

DIÁLOGO:
How has it worked so far?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Most employers who have hired them have come to our part of the program and asked for more. We prefer to have our young people on the right, with us, behind our guns, than on the other end of it, fighting us.

DIÁLOGO:
Is there any other initiatives such as this one?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
The Minister of National Security has a ‘Unite for Change’ initiative. And that is a whole process of getting the community, the police, civic groups, etc., to unite, to bring about change. And it’s really part of the smart policing concept. So clearly, where people have automatic weapons and the intention of killing you, obviously smart policing doesn’t work there. But sometimes you have communities that are against the police or, us, and our joint efforts. They are told to be that way. They don’t really feel that way, but they are trained like that. Really, there is no success without community support.

DIÁLOGO:
The JDF is comprised of about 4,000 members, correct?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes.

DIÁLOGO
: And you just spoke about the Citizens Security and Justice Program that can reach up to 450 members of the youth population in Jamaica.

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Yes.

DIÁLOGO
: So, it’s a huge task,, and, I’m going to quote you, you once said that your philosophy is: “The difficult can be done instantly and the impossible only takes a moment longer…” So, do you think that this task just needs a moment longer?

Maj. Gen. Anderson:
Oh, yes! It can be done! And it’s happening. Very small, but very precise inputs can amplify the success you’re having. There seems to be a formula that is working in terms of how to approach things. I mean, if you speak to academics, you treat violence as an epidemic. It reaches a certain scale. Then the greatest predictor of an act of violence is a preceding one, and the fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter who committed the violence and whether it is legitimate or not. But if you have it, then your chances are you’ll have another. So the way of the world is that you will have acts of violence. But you want to minimize that. So in the discussions we have when we’re talking to the guys about all that, we emphasize that it’s not just whether you’ll justify your actions. But it has to be justifiable. It also has to be necessary. Because it can be justifiable but you really didn’t have a need. But you know you did because you’re justified. So, it’s really just to take that extra step. I’m here, I’m a Soldier saying these things, but I always think that your force, your use of force should be a scalpel and not a sledgehammer because it’s really the cancer you’re after, not the body.
I don't believe drug and human trafficking will ever end. Don't forget that the Vatican drives the world in every sense. Most of those who commit crimes come from broken homes, from poverty, and from a lack of schooling that leads to other goals, since it's the easy life, at the expense of those who do work, study and work toward their goals. The moral and ethical factors are virtues that do not exist in a life of crime. Drugs, prostitution, drug addiction, and white collar crimes contribute to creating a social pathology. The problem of crime should be the focus of attention starting from home, school and the sick social conglomerate. It is there where the government should pour every resource, to guarantee the safety of decent people. No country escapes the scourges as terrible as ebola. Bring the church a little closer to these prevention centers and you will be able to see the final result.
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