Drug Crime Is an International Issue

Prime Minister Golding says that drug-related crime in Jamaica and other countries in Latin America should not be seen in isolation: "It is a global problem. And therefore it’s something that we all have to work, work, work on."
  • Transcript


Question: What can the international community do to help address drug-related crime in the Caribbean?

Bruce Golding: Crime that we are experiencing in countries like Jamaica and other parts of Latin America must not be seen in isolation.  It is part of an international network; it is connected in one way or the other.  Even when criminal elements are not themselves involved in international narcotics, they are somehow connected to that network of criminal activity and I think it’s important for us to see that, first of all, it is a global problem.  And therefore it’s something that we all have to work, work, work on. 

Take the trafficking in drugs, for example.  And you know, South America is a major source of drugs entering not just North America, but Europe.  If we are to tackle that effectively, it cannot be just simply on the supply side.  It cannot be just trying to intercept boats and trying to exercise surveillance on cargo going on ships and so on.  We also have to tackle it on the demand side.  And I don’t think sufficient effort is being paid to that. 

In addition to all of that, it has to be seen as a developmental challenge.  The United... the World Bank has estimated that crime robs the Jamaican economy of 4% of its GDP each year.  Look at what that means.  It means that if we end a year where the GDP has grown by only 1%, but for crime it would have been 5%. And therefore it is a development challenge for us.  And it is something that I think requires a global partnership because it’s interconnected. 

The criminal enterprises in one country are linked in one way or another to a chain of activities that involve so many other countries.  We have asked the United Nations to, by a resolution, to look at certain aspects of the international criminal business, for example, the trade in small arms.  Crime depends on weapons.  Criminals need weapons.  The ease with which people in countries like Jamaica and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean can get their hands on weapons is something that we have to tackle.  

I have raised this matter with the United States. I know that there are certain constraints that would face the United States because of the Second Amendment. But I do believe that we have to apply more stringent measures to reduce the flow of arms into the hands of persons who then become criminal warlords in countries that have little capacity to deal with that sort of problem.

Ninety-seven percent of the guns that we recover—and we recover on an average, we recover 600 guns each year—97% of them are made in the United States.  We can’t they came from the United States because they may have come through other countries, but they were made in the United States.  And therefore we feel that some additional measures must be put in place to trace these guns.  And to limit the ease with which guns can move from one hand to another and in a matter of a few weeks it can be in countries that just don’t have the capacity to respond to the threat that it poses. 

Question: What can be done to reduce demand for illegal drugs in the U.S. and Europe?

Bruce Golding: Well, if you look at what appears in the media, for example.  Every so often we see major drug busts; we look at what is happening in Mexico, the war that is on.  So much attention is being paid on interdiction—to capture the drug before they get to the shores of the United States.  I haven’t seen a similar kind of aggressiveness in terms of capturing the people who are receiving these drugs when it gets... when they get to the United States.  I don’t get the impression that people who are using drugs and who are peddling drugs feel as intimidated as those who are seeking to export the drugs.

I think that there are three dimensions to the problem.  There is the supply side; that has to be pressured.  There is the transit phase; its movement from its location, its source, to its ultimate market.  That has to be prosecuted vigilantly.  And there is the demand side, those who are ordering the drugs, those who are receiving it.  And I believe we need to put equal emphasis and equal vigilance, equal aggressiveness on all of those phases of the drug trade.

Recorded on September 25, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman