June 27, 2006


Barbadosadvocate.com--While 8% of the globally intercepted cocaine was seized in Central America and the Caribbean during 2004, an international drug agency is reporting a decrease in trafficking in the area. This is according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which issued its 2006 World Drug Report yesterday on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The agency found that the importance of the Caribbean area as a trans-shipment point to the United States was decreasing. In the past, 30 to 50% of the cocaine entered the USA directly via the Caribbean. For 2004, however, the United States Interagency Assessment of Cocaine Movement concluded that this proportion had fallen to below 10%. The main smuggling vectors via the Caribbean in 2004 concerned Haiti and the Dominican Republic (2%), Jamaica (2%) and Puerto Rico (1%), the report stated.

However, the trans-shipment of cocaine through the Caribbean to Europe continued to pose a serious problem. The report highlighted the particular importance of the Netherlands Antilles, since more than 40% of total seizures were made in their waters in 2004.

The other Caribbean islands, specifically Jamaica and the French departments, were seen to be important trans-shipment points in the region. 15,107 kilos of cocaine were seized in the Caribbean during 2004, the report stated. The abuse of the drug in South America on the whole, including Central America and the Caribbean, ranked third in the world, with 15% of the global market, and a prevalence of 0.7% of the population between ages 16 and 64.

The report further found that there had been a slight increase in global production of cannabis in the last year, with the majority 54% being produced in the Americas. Cannabis remained the most widely trafficked drug world-wide, and its use has only recently stabilised in the Americas, after significant increases in the 1990s. 47,653 kilograms of cannabis were seized in the Caribbean in 2004.

The United Nations report said that on the whole the world drug problem was being contained, despite increasing consumption and production in some areas. It found that there were record highs in the seizures of opium and especially cocaine; and Africa has been gaining in importance in the trans-shipment of cocaine and heroin to Europe. The increase in the number of seizures was linked to improved co-operation between law enforcement services and better sharing of intelligence information.

The report also found that some 200 million people, or 5% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 64 have used illegal drugs at least once in the last 12 months.

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