HC Deb 27 January 1989 vol 145 c793W
Mr. Page

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress Her Majesty's Government are making in assisting dependent territories to combat drug trafficking in the Caribbean.

Mr. Eggar

Following the review, which HMG conducted in 1986 in the British dependent territories of the Caribbean a number of steps have been taken to help the local Governments combat drugs and narcotics trafficking. We have provided a police launch for the British Virgin Islands and a drugs surveillance aircraft between the Turks and Caicos Islands and British Virgin Islands, built safe repositories for seized drugs, and supplied sniffer dogs for local police and customs forces. Local drugs squads have been established and strengthened with United Kingdom personnel, and advisers have been appointed to carry out drug awareness customs training courses. Drugs intelligence gathering systems are being set up throughout the territories.

Particular emphasis has been placed on the introduction or strengthening of appropriate legislation. All the Caribbean dependent territories are in the process of passing legislation akin to the United Kingdom's Drugs Trafficking Offences Act.

The total value of this assistance to date is over £¾million. Further aid in the pipeline will provide more launches and rummage equipment for the customs services.

These efforts have already yielded success. On 9 January the BVI drugs squad, in a joint operation with the United States Drugs Enforcement Agency seized 150 kg of cocaine, $60,000, three boats and arrested 18 persons on drugs trafficking charges. Earlier last year the same squad acting independently seized 470 kg, one aircraft and arrested two persons in one operation.

Drugs trafficking is an international problem which requires an international effort, and HMG are determined to ensure that none of their dependent territories become the weak link in the chain.

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