AMU Homeland Security Opinion

Jamaica under Siege: Implications for the U.S.

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By William Tucker
The Associated Press is reporting that the running gun battles that touched off in Jamaica a few days ago are growing in intensity. The violence began when the ruling party in the Jamaican government dropped its objections to the extradition of drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the U.S. Jamaica is a nation of endemic poverty that allows criminal elements, especially in the drug trade, to flourish. Because of Jamaica’s geographic location in the Gulf of Mexico it is an ideal jumping off point for moving illicit products into the U.S. In addition to the legitimate economic activity of tourism, drug money that flows into the island nation is reinvested in legitimate economic endeavors making government action against the drug kingpin a difficult undertaking.

Thus far Jamaican authorities claim they do not know the whereabouts of Coke, nor do they have the ability to quickly wrap up the current operation. The criminal element in Jamaica is so entrenched that its weapons arsenal rivals that of the government. From the U.S. perspective the concern will quickly shift to criminal elements in the U.S. that have ties to Coke and stand to lose a lot of money if the operation running through Jamaica is disrupted. While violence on the level of what is occurring in Jamaica is unlikely to occur in the U.S., it could have implications in other areas of the drug war – most notably Mexico. We must keep in mind connections that are visible on the surface are often more complex than we immediately realize. As such, we must remain flexible and keep an eye out for the next challenge.

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