Five individuals known to pilot shipments of illegal drugs back-and-forth between the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean ports are now in Her Majesty’s Prison, Northward, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service confirmed.
The arrests, according to police, should act as a deterrent to others who run the small, high-powered vessels into Cayman waters looking to drop their packages off, undetected, to local interests.
“Intelligence … shows that the Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force [has] arrested and charged and has in prison, either serving or on remand, five known drug canoe captains and this has an impact on the willingness of others to be involved in smuggling,” the RCIPS annual report for 2017 stated.
The RCIPS also noted significantly increased levels of cocaine trafficking during 2017, compared to earlier years.
In total for last year, police patrols on land and sea seized more than 1,600 pounds of ganja and 3.7 kilograms [8.1 pounds] of cocaine, along with three “drug canoes,” two handguns and 115 bullets.
“It is significant that the amount of cocaine recovered is now in the kilo range, while in the past it has only been small amounts seen in street dealing,” the RCIPS report noted. “The Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force identified persons coming through Owen Roberts International Airport with cocaine in a liquid format having been swallowed to avoid detection.”
The method of transporting liquid cocaine using latex, noted at least 10 years ago in South America, makes the cocaine being carried harder to detect. It’s also easier for “drug mules” to swallow more of it using fewer latex containers. The method can be extremely dangerous. If the latex holding the drug ruptures, it can kill the person carrying it.
Relatively small amounts of amphetamine and MDMA – more commonly known by its street name “ecstasy” – were recovered during police operations last year. A little more than 10 grams of amphetamine was found and just under a gram of ecstasy was recovered.
Most of the cocaine seized was in powdered form, but police also recovered nearly 40 grams of “freebase cocaine” – commonly known as crack – during operations.
Of the more than 2,500 prisoners processed through the police jail in Fairbanks, George Town, last year about one-fifth of them, 20 percent, were arrested on suspicion of drug-related offenses.
There was an overall decrease of about 11 percent in reported drug crimes during 2017 compared with the year before, according to police crime statistics.
“Decreases in discrete drug offences can happen even while the overall amount of drug seizures and drug enforcement increases,” according to the police crime report for 2017. “Interdictions of drug shipments remove large quantities of drugs from circulation, which then results in fewer individuals being in possession of, and likewise being arrested for, drug crimes.”
Patrol activities by the drugs and crime task force may also have deterred some shipments from coming to Cayman, the report noted.