Meat traded for guns

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The drugs-for-gun trade between Jamaica and Haiti has taken a strange twist with so-called Jamaican fishermen now exchanging animal carcasses with their Haitian counterparts for high-powered weapons, according to the police.

The local police believe the Haitians are exchanging the weapons for animal meat, which the Haitians use for food.

Preserving the meat

It is uncertain how the Jamaicans preserve the animal remains throughout the trip which sometimes lasts up to eight hours.

“The time the trip takes depends on a number of factors, such as the type engines, the point from which you leave, and the condition of the sea,” said Superintendent Marlon Dietrich, who is in charge of the Marine Division.

On their return from Haiti with the guns, the ‘fishermen’ are said to carry out various transactions in the waters around Portland, an area in which the police have now increased their patrols, both on land and sea.

When contacted yesterday, Dr. Henry Rainford, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Livestock Association, said he was unaware of the strange trade-off, but insisted that he would not be surprised if it was in fact taking place.

“I know there have been a lot of missing cattle in St. Elizabeth but we can’t say where they are gone to,” Dr. Rainford said. “There was quite a bit of stolen cattle in St. Elizabeth like one guy losing 45 heads, another one lost 22 heads and there was another that lost 30-odd heads,” Dr. Rainford explained.

For his part, Senator Norman Grant, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, said he was unaware of animal meat being traded for guns.

“It would be a matter (in which) we would certainly want to carry out some intense investigation to ascertain how factual is that information and what are the implications for the sector,” Senator Grant told The Gleaner.

Head of Operation Kingfish, Assistant Commissioner Glenmore Hinds, told The Gleaner Monday that a Jamaican fishing boat was intercepted in Haitian waters Sunday night. “They (our overseas counterparts) boarded and searched the vessel but no contraband was found,” Hinds said.

With the help of their foreign counterparts, ACP Hinds said alot more ‘stop and search’ operations are now taking place on the high seas as the police step up efforts to stamp out the illegal activities. “Sometimes when they see law enforcement agents approaching, they throw the contraband over board,” said Mr. Hinds. He said persons involved in the guns-for-drugs trade can easily make a 300 per cent profit on whatever money they put into the illicit trade. It is for this reason that detectives attached to Operation Kingfish are probing a number of local businessmen, some of whom have been under surveillance for several months.