Features
May 27, 2011
The Money Laundering and Narcotics Trade

27.MAY.11

Submitted by the Financial Intelligence Unit

Did you know that cannabis is sold for EC$400-$600 per pound and cocaine is sold for approximately USD$7,000.00 per Kilo? Did you know that a rock of cocaine is sold for EC$5-$10, whilst a cannabis cigarette sold for EC$2.00- $3.00?{{more}} Did you know that in the year 2010, 395 persons were arrested for marijuana possession, whilst 50 persons were arrested for cocaine possession of which 429 were males ranging between the ages under 16 yrs to age 30? Did you know for the period of January to March 2011, 155 persons are already arrested for possession of cannabis? In the month of January, 35 persons were arrested, 34 of them were males. In the month of February, 66 persons were arrested, 62 were males. In the month of March, 69 were arrested, 66 were males. These males also ranged between the ages of 16 to 30 years. From these statistics, we see that our young men are involved in the production, consumption, transportation and selling of marijuana and cocaine. The hardened criminals are soliciting our young people to engage in drug trafficking, offering enticement of money and other valuables. Therefore, most of our young people no longer want to make an honest living, since the money from the drug trade seems much easier and faster to obtain. The negative effects and social ills of a life of crime are not considered.

The effects of being involved in drug trafficking are numerous. A few examples are readily drawn to mind namely:

  • A conviction for a drug offence means you now have a criminal record. This seriously hampers one’s ability to get a job, obtain a visa, since employers and issuers of visas usually ask for police records.
  •  Most of our young men are failing in academia. We are losing them from the productive sector to illicit activities.
  • Drug trafficking and money laundering equals corruption and besmirching of our country’s name and reputation. Currently, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is known to be one of the major producers of marijuana, and as a result, some of our citizens, when travelling, are subjected to rigorous searches by law enforcement personnel of other jurisdictions.
  • Marijuana is now being exchanged for cocaine, which attracts other nationalities to our shores who are also engaging in criminal activities, which result in loss of life and limb. This increases our crime statistics and creates a strain on our legal, security and social infrastructures. It takes time, money and much effort to treat victims/criminals, prosecute and subsequently incarcerate these criminals.
  • The smoking of cocaine and marijuana has detrimental effects on the body, and the consequences related to cocaine effects can eventually lead to permanent damage, addiction and death. In order to assist these addicts in kicking their habit, money has to be expended to hospitals and other rehabilitation centres. Fighting a drug addiction becomes strenuous on families affected and the society at large.
  • The Money Laundering and Narcotics Trade has a staggering effect on any country. Massive influxes of dirty cash into particular areas of the economy that are desirable to money launderers create a false demand and officials act on this new demand by adjusting economic policy.
  • As with the damaged integrity of an individual financial institution, there is a damping effect on foreign direct investment when a country’s commercial and financial sectors are perceived to be subject to the control and influence of drug traffickers.

Fighting money laundering and narcotics trade is, therefore, a part of creating a business friendly environment which is a precondition for lasting economic development.

Illicit drugs typically move internationally from less developed areas of the world to the more developed countries, where most drug consumption takes place. Just as the growth of legitimate global businesses has been facilitated by the globalization of financial systems and market relations, drug traffickers have additionally taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the changing macro-economic environment. They have organized themselves on a global scale and put a significant amount of their drug profits in financial centres, offering secrecy and attractive investment returns. Drug traffickers are now able to launder illicit profits by moving money around the world electronically with nominal national controls. They are aided by porous borders due in part to policies intended to encourage trade and investment. In other cases, it is due to weak governments and weak or unenforceable laws against money laundering, fraud and organized crime.

Money derived from drug trafficking allows criminals greater access to technological advantages. The reality is such that traffickers have a higher budget than drug enforcement officers do; they are able to develop more sophisticated means of producing, transporting, and hiding their drugs. The budget to fight the supply of drugs and money launderers cannot compete with the limitless resources available to these criminals. Would we be daunted by the obstacles that we may face to combat these crimes? The answer is NO!

The intention of the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, including the specialized units such as Narcotics, Rapid Response Unit, and Coastguard and other stakeholders such as the Customs Authority is to take the profit out of crime by draining all of the resources of these criminals. We will seize, detain, forfeit, restrain and confiscate all proceeds of criminal conduct. The Financial Intelligence Unit urges the populace of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to assist in taking the profit out of crime. Do not engage in any sort of criminal activity or become an accomplice thereto. Do not assist any drug trafficker and or money launderer to smuggle, conceal, retain or disguise their illicit proceeds. In short, BE A LAW ABIDING CITIZEN. Criminals should not be allowed to benefit from their ill-gotten gains. Let’s work together in this fight against money laundering and the narcotics trade.

Visit our website www.svgfiu.com for more information.