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Drugs: Caribbean

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps she has taken to tackle drug trafficking into the UK from the Caribbean; and if she will make a statement. (195625)

Preventing the importation of cocaine from the Caribbean region is a priority for the UK's international counter-narcotics efforts. The UK works closely with the Governments of the region and other international partners to disrupt trafficking and interdict consignments of illicit drugs.

The FCO has invested in various counter-narcotics projects in the Caribbean through its Global Opportunities Fund's drugs and crime programme. Projects such as the UK Security Advisory Team based in Bridgetown have helped to build capacity among various Caribbean law enforcement agencies and the judiciary.

HM Revenue and Customs Operation Airbridge was set up in 2002 to reduce the number of couriers arriving in the UK from Jamaica and since its inception the number of couriers arriving in the UK has fallen from about 1,000 to five in the last financial year.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency maintains a team of resident liaison officers in the region, which works with local partners, US agencies, and others, against major organised crime syndicates. In the Caribbean region during 2007-08 this operational work led to the seizure of 1 tonne of cocaine and 6.5 tonnes of cannabis, and to the arrest of a total of 76 suspects.