Friday, June 25, 2004

Bhms: Ashcroft steps up to make the Caribbean safe

The Caribbean will no longer be a drug traffickers safe haven, said United States Attorney General John Ashcroft as he announced in Washington, DC Wednesday the unsealing of indictments against more than 50 people in the Caribbean, The US, Colombia, and The Bahamas.

The Bahamian ring leaders — Melvin Maycock and Pedro Smith — were named as head of an organisation that is affiliated with Elias Cobos-Munoz, leader of one of the largest drug trafficking and drug transportation organisations operating in Colombia and Jamaica. Cobos-Munoz is being held by authorities in Colombia and faces extradition to the US.

On hand at the Department of Justice for the announcement of the unsealed indictments were Commissioner of Police Paul Farquharson, Asst Commissioner Reginald Ferguson, Chief Supt Hulan Hanna, Supt. Raymond Gibson, Director of Prosecutions Bernard Turner and Crown Prosecutor Francis Cumberbach.

Mr Ashcroft's announcement culminated the DEA's "Caribbean Initiative" under the code name "Busted Manatee" and "Double talk," a 29 month-long international Organised Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation into cocaine and marijuana smuggling.

The overall impact of the Caribbean Initiative has been the arrest of more than 330 people, the seizure of $85 million in cash and 26,000 kilos of cocaine. Mr Ashcroft said the result has been a 10 per cent reduction in the amount of drugs coming through the corridor. He said the ultimate goal is to cut off the supply of drugs to the United States.

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