St Vincent Times op-ed: Drug smuggling in the Grenadines presents security concerns for SVG

According to the Chief Petty Officer of the St. Vincent Coast Guard, the Grenadines islands are being utilized by those involved in drug smuggling activities to conceal provisions, hence presenting a security concern for the multi-island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

During a discussion on the WEFM show COP Chat, C.P.O. Gordon Charles, who is stationed at the Coast Guard installation in Bequia, revealed the information pertaining to the difficulties encountered in law enforcement within the Grenadines division.

“Our vessels may be unable to enter certain areas because they reef volume and the waters are sometimes shallow, and it is easier for drug smugglers to actually go ashore in shallow water and stash away the drugs and so on.” That is one of the difficulties we face.”

Based on the findings of the Global Organized Crime Index, it has been seen that the COVID-19 epidemic has brought about notable changes in the patterns of arms trafficking. Specifically, there has been an apparent shift in the utilization of cannabis as a medium of exchange for the acquisition of superior armaments originating from Trinidad and Tobago. Presently, the trafficking of firearms is predominantly motivated by the cocaine trade and the imperative for individuals participating to safeguard their drug reserves.

The Grenadine islands persist as a significant hub for Venezuelan criminal organizations, as evidenced by the escalating influx of cocaine shipments from Venezuela to the Grenadines (including Grenada), which has resulted in a decline in shipments to St. Lucia. This shift in trafficking patterns might be attributed to the groups’ strategic efforts to mitigate the likelihood of interception. Primarily, criminal organizations coordinate the utilization of Venezuelan fishing vessels to facilitate the unloading of substantial quantities of cocaine in coastal seas. Subsequently, the drugs are gathered and accumulated for the purpose of being loaded into pleasure vessels, mostly intended for transportation to Europe. According to reports, there has been a decline in the frequency of smuggling efforts in recent years, yet the quantities of trafficking cocaine have increased significantly, by a factor of four or five.

The nation also serves as a crucial transshipment hub for South American cannabis destined for the United States, Europe, and several other regions within the Caribbean. According to research from the Global Organized Crime Index, the subject matter pertains only to a particular type of premium South American cannabis referred to as ‘Creepy’.

Based on the government’s perspective, the increasing homicide rate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines primarily stems from the attraction of young individuals towards the gun culture and involvement in the cocaine trade.

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