(CNS): The RCIPS sized almost 1,489lbs of illegal ganja last year, and with wide-ranging street prices in Cayman, the drugs could have been worth more than one million dollars had they made it onto the street. The quantity of drugs seized gives an idea that many more millions of dollars worth are obviously making it through. And it is not just ganja that is making its way on to the streets; the number of people arrested for dealing cocaine last year tripled, according to the RCIPS, who said the sale of drugs posed not only a health risk but a security threat because it is often shipped along with illegal guns.
Police removed around 16 firearms from the street last year but only one, along with fifty rounds of 9mm ammunition, was found during a drug interdiction. During 2016 five people were convicted for importing drugs and four more suspects are on remand awaiting trial. The number of arrests for possession of cocaine with intent to supply was fifteen, compared to five in 2015. Arrests relating to the supply of ganja increased from 23 to 37. Overall, drug offences fell by around 9% but firearm related crimes was up 90%, including a 75% increase in the possession of guns.
The use of ganja in Cayman is relatively widespread but there is little evidence that the government is considering a move towards decriminalization to try and remove the connection of casual use from serious offending. Although the government has now passed legislation to allow the use of medicinal cannabis extracts, such as oil and tinctures, there appears to be no move to begin the produce of medical ganja in Cayman, despite the drugs being seized. And while the passage of a new Caution Law last week may see fewer people criminalized for the consumption of ganja, the police say they will pursue the dealers.
“Those who traffic in drugs or firearms, or deal drugs, will be pursued and face the full force of the law,” a spokesperson for the RCIPS said recently. “We renew our calls to the community to share information with us that can help us catch these culprits and remove the threats they pose to the islands.”
The police said they believe the trafficking of drugs “is always accompanied by the threat of violence and the potential for addiction, especially among young people”, and they were also concerned about young people getting drugs from adults to sell in school. “The impact on youth and public safety cannot be overstated, and the RCIPS continues to focus its enforcement on those who deal drugs,” the management added.
During a recent press briefing, Police Commissioner Derek Byrne and Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis both raised their concern that the police cannot tackle the drug problem alone and that in addition to the problem of trafficking, those using drugs are behind the hundreds of burglaries that happen in Grand Cayman every year. This acquisitive crime is to steal cash or electronic goods that can be easily bartered or sold to get drugs money.
The high rates of recidivism among offenders is also down to drugs, the police believe. With limited rehabilitation for addicts at the prisons, inmates are released back to their same communities still suffering from substance abuse, making it almost impossible for them to make a fresh start. Both Ennis and Byrne stressed the importance of treating addicts to cut the significant level of acquisitive crime.