Customs makes 58 drugs arrests during 2017

Significantly increased levels of cocaine trafficking in the Cayman Islands were noted by Her Majesty’s Customs service, as well as the Royal Cayman Islands Police.

In an annual report released Wednesday for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, HM Customs reported its officers made 58 arrests for drug trafficking and seized more than two pounds of cocaine during the period.

Customs officers also seized 51 pounds of ganja during the year in various operations.

In a separate report for the same year, RCIPS officers reported concerns about the levels of cocaine being discovered during law enforcement drug raids.

“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 for 2017 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.”

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.

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 is 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 were 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.

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