Smugglers hunted

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Police have launched a manhunt for survivors – believed to be players in the trafficking of drugs – who fled the scene of a plane crash in Clarendon early Sunday morning.

The cops theorise that a plane transporting drugs tried to land at an airstrip near the Rocky Point port, which is used by bauxite company Jamalco, got into difficulties and crashed into mangroves close to the Salt River community. The aircraft then burst into flames.

According to the police, when they arrived at the site of the crash, they were unable to capture the fleeing men.

Four partially burnt packages of compressed marijuana were found near to the burnt-out plane. A further search of the mangroves turned up 16 packages with an estimated weight of 2.5kg each.

The police are also following strong leads that most of the marijuana on the aeroplane was saved before it went into flames and that it might be hidden at locations in the Salt River area.

A joint police-military team also searched a few homes in the vicinity of the Salt River Hotel but nothing was found.

Residents from nearby communities told The Gleaner that the road which leads to the port is often used as a landing area for planes carrying marijuana. The road is used as a transfer point for drugs from which the contraband is taken to the port to be loaded on to boats.

“This is nothing new to us as it is not the first time ganja plane land here, and this is how a lot of drugs leave the island,” one resident said.

Sections of southern Clarendon are major trans-shipment points for drugs as well as guns. At least two illegal airstrips have been destroyed by the military in Clarendon in the last three years. In August 2006, an airstrip in swamps in Portland Cottage, which lies east of Rocky Point, had been destroyed. Another had been destroyed in Sheckles, near Mocho, a community farther north in the parish.

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