Address By Honourable Calixte George
At The Opening Of The 11th Annual Drug
July 13, 2004 – Bay Gardens Hotel
On behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security it is a pleasure to welcome everyone here present especially the organizers and participants of this Conference.
Given my Ministry’s responsibility for home affairs and internal security, I take this opportunity to record our support for this initiative. We are well aware that we cannot do it alone and must continue to work together.
The world in which we live today is indeed a global village. We have seen the growth and sophistication of the illegal drug organizations. They work together, collaborate and share information. We in turn have to do the same and do it better if we are to prevail against the evil forces of the illegal drug trade.
St Lucia and our sister Caribbean States are by our mere geographic location, placed in a very vulnerable position, between the major drug producing countries and the major drug using countries. Additionally we are not manufacturers of firearms yet the region seems to have a large illegal stock. In fact there is a direct relationship between illegal drug trading and illegal firearm possession.
We therefore, need to continue to strengthen our collaboration and co-operation, to be many steps ahead in order to deal with those engaged in the illicit drug and firearm trades.
The Drug Commanders forum provides a wonderful opportunity for collaboration, networking, training and strategizing in this important area of international law enforcement.
In this regard, the efforts of the US Government in providing assets (tools to do the job) for narcotics control and training to the drug law enforcement agencies in the region is commendable. We express our appreciation and thanks.
Outstanding examples of the utility of arrests provided are the use of the H920 Zodiac Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, in counter narcotics high-speed pursuit; and the C26 Aircraft Surveillance support to the RSS and their work in conjunction with the various coast guard units in the interception of drugs.
Information and surveillance provided by this program has resulted in tremendous success in drug interdiction.
These efforts need to be strengthened by a proper intelligence sharing network within the Caribbean region so that intelligence can be sourced in a timely manner to assist in anti narcotics and drug law enforcement activities.
The Government of Saint Lucia is committed to promoting drug law enforcement and anti-money laundering programmes in Saint Lucia and taking action to reduce the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs in Saint Lucia.
A significant percentage of the emerging crimes we see today are driven in one way or other by the existence of the drug trade. Its effect on our youth, on their education, has not gone unnoticed. It is destroying our families, the fabric of our society by undermining our human resource potential and encouraging the gang culture and use of firearms.
Saint Lucia like other Caribbean countries are not only being used as drug transhipment points but may also be gearing towards the manufacturing of certain drugs. For example, the recent large seizure of 90 gallons of acetone within the city of Castries would lead one to conclude that chemical transformation processes are intended. The presence of high powered weapons and the open defiance of criminal elements to disrupt police anti narcotics operations, indicate the extent to which persons involved in the drug trade are willing to go, to protect their interest.
We, as law enforcement agencies, need to respond with even greater determination and resolve in order to protect our society.
The Government and our Ministry is committed to supply reduction and also to working with other Governments, Non Government Organizations and law enforcement agencies in promoting demand reduction through public education drug prevention programmes, promotion of drug free healthy lifestyles.
In closing, I wish to express my Ministry’s support to this Annual Drug Commanders Conference. Do have a productive meeting and we wish you success in your deliberations.
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