HomeNewsBriefJamaica Can’t Shake Status As US’ Top Marijuana Provider
BRIEF

Jamaica Can't Shake Status As US’ Top Marijuana Provider

CARIBBEAN / 26 DEC 2019 BY MARIA ALEJANDRA NAVARRETE EN

A series of marijuana seizures reported over the last few months highlight the magnitude of the drug flow from Jamaica to the United States, as well as the difficulties authorities have in stemming it. 

During a November 22 operation, six men were arrested after the seizure of 1,000 pounds of marijuana in the port city of Ocho Ríos, the Jamaica Gleaner reported. The haul was valued at $4.5 million in the US market. 

The latest seizure came after two earlier marijuana busts in the same city. In early October, police discovered about 1,000 pounds during a raid. Days before that raid, authorities had captured 500 pounds of marijuana, Caribbean news outlet Loop reported. 

SEE ALSO: Jamaica and the Caribbean News and Profile

In August, authorities seized about 7,000 pounds of marijuana in a district neighboring Ocho Ríos. The marijuana -- valued at $36 million -- was packaged and appeared ready for export.  

According to the latest US State Department report on international drug control strategies, most of the marijuana leaving Jamaica is headed for the United States. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The recent seizures show that Jamaica's steps to stop large quantities of marijuana continue flowing out of the island have been toothless. Corruption at Jamaica's ports and airports facilitates the movement of drugs, and local organized crime bosses have ties to government officials, "creating a permissive environment for drug trafficking," the State Department report stated.

According to the report, factors that have contributed to the island nation becoming one of the hemisphere’s key drug trafficking points include the country's location in the Caribbean, its difficult-to-patrol shores, and its role as a container transshipment point. 

Jamaica's popularity as a tourist destination also facilitates the movement of drugs via small boats and private aircraft, according to the report.   

The Jamaican and US governments have tried to stop the flow for years with bilateral cooperation agreements. Both countries uphold judicial assistance and extradition treaties in order to facilitate the prosecution of traffickers. The countries also collaborate on enforcement efforts to interdict maritime trafficking. 

SEE ALSO: Jamaica Brings Back Security Force Occupation as Violence Rises

In 2019, the two countries signed a bilateral Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) to formalize the exchange of information between US and Jamaican customs agencies to help control the flow of drugs, arms and other contraband smuggled through legal ports of entry. 

In 2015, Jamaica decriminalized possession of marijuana, allowing citizens to carry small quantities of 57 grams or less, for personal use.

By passing this law, the country hoped not only to reduce micro-trafficking on the island and the burden on the judicial system, but also to encourage the development of a legal marijuana industry that could in turn promote tourism around regulated marijuana consumption.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 18 FEB 2013

A newly inaugurated radar in western Puerto Rico will form a key part of the government's intensified campaign against drug…

CARIBBEAN / 23 JUN 2015

"The biggest headache is getting the men to walk away from certain things," says Adenike Stephenson, when asked what was…

CARIBBEAN / 7 JAN 2013

Puerto Rico's newly-inaugurated governor has announced the deployment of the National Guard along the island's coastline, as the US…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.