Former CARICOM Chairman and current Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Denzil Douglas, told delegates attending the Preliminary International Drug Enforcement Commanders Conference and the 18thAnnual Regional Drug Commanders Meeting, now taking place in St. Kitts, that the fight against drugs would be given the greatest chances for success if other nations were to find ways to curb the demand for drugs within their own borders, and control the ease with which weapons can be bought and sent overseas as well.
For Douglas, it seems like there is also a direct correlation between the drug trade, (for which Caribbean states have been blamed as producers and transshipment points), and also the gun industry in countries like the United States, but for which, not much focus is placed, when addressing the issues.
Douglas pointed out that the United States remains the number one consumer of illegal drugs.
Dr. Douglas said that the challenge that the region faces, as policy makers and law enforcement officials, is further complicated by the fact that heroin, cocaine, marijuana, synthetic drugs and other substances produced in one region are sold in another at utterly phenomenal markups.
“Considering our geographical position, this is most unfortunate for us here in the Caribbean. At the same time, drug use in Europe is expanding, making that region a close second to the U.S. In a nutshell, some 272 million people around the globe use illegal drugs,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
The Prime Minister explained that once a regional problem involving a customer base of a few million, and barely a billion dollars in sales, the illegal drug industry is now a worldwide enterprise with tens of millions of hard core consumers spending hundreds of billions on opiates, cocaine, amphetamines and marijuana, as well as other drugs.
He said even though the focus this week is the Caribbean, the fact is that an expanding drug trade – globally – places every country, including the region’s, at greater risk because of the transnational character of these the global drug trade.
He told the drug commanders attending the meeting that drug-related operators constitute a drain on the state in which they function since they tend to create systems that are outside of formal channels.
However Dr. Douglas said that he is heartened and encouraged with the commitment of other countries to help fight crime in the Caribbean from the Governments of the United States of America, the Republic of France and Canada. These countries have agreed to work with the region in several ways to fight trans-national crime in our region.
“My regional colleagues and I have raised this point on several occasions and I will not belabor the point now, but this remains a major concern because everything, as I have said, is interconnected,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He disclosed that in 2011 and 2012 local security forces seized cocaine with a street value of EC$500,000, cured marijuana with a street value of some EC$12 million and marijuana plants with a street value of some EC$42 million.
Countries represented are Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, The Bahamas, Colombia, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Croix and the United States.