One in 10 Jamaican fliers is a drug mule
Published by The Guardian – Monday 21 April, 2003
Copyright: The Guardian
A UN report will this week claim that one in 10 of all passengers on flights from Jamaica is smuggling drugs.
Publication of the report follows similar figures released last year by British police and Customs officials, which estimated that around 20 people on each flight from Jamaica were ‘drug mules’.
Phil Sinkinson, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Kingston, has said that the figures were probably an underestimate.
Each mule, most of whom are women, is paid as much as £1,500 a trip and swallows up to half a kilogram of cocaine in tiny packages.
In some British women’s jails, up to half the prisoners are drug mules. Dozens of British women are also held in Jamaican prisons after being caught smuggling drugs for ‘Yardie’ gangs.
The process is fraught with risk for the mules, who can die if the bags burst during the flight.
The report from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) uses the dangers to try to dispel the myth that drug trafficking can lead to growth and prosperity in developing countries.
The INCB also raises concerns about the ‘worldwide repercussions’ of the decision of the British Government to reclassify cannabis as a Class C drug. The INCB believes that drug liberalisation in Europe and North America makes it difficult to counter cannabis cultivation in other regions, especially Morocco.
The report will accuse advocates of cannabis legalisation of misinforming the public amid recent research by the British Lung Foundation which found that smoking three joints of cannabis can be as harmful as 20 cigarettes. Cannabis, far from being a harmless drug, also affects the brain and can induce heart attacks, according to the INCB.
On a global level, it dismisses the belief that the drug trade has benefited communities in Asia and South America. It argues that the heroin trade in Afghanistan contributed to the civil wars that plagued the country in the 1990s.
It is estimated just 1 per cent of the money spent on drugs by users in the developed world finds its way into the pockets of growers in the Third World. The violence and corruption surrounding the illicit drug trade also make it unsuited to long-term economic development.
At the same time, some countries are highly dependent on income from drugs: 10-15 per cent of the GDP of Afghanistan and Burma comes from the production of opium poppies. As illicit production in these countries grew, economic growth and living standards fell.
Neighbouring Pakistan and Iran, which reduced or eliminated poppy cultivation, witnessed economic growth during the same period.