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Vincy Pac over – Now what?

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05.JUNE.09

Operation Vincy Pac is now over. Now what?

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves reported to the nation earlier this week that the operation, which sought to gather intelligence on criminal operations, destroy significant quantities of marijuana, crack down on criminals who deal in drugs, guns and other illegal activities, and to liberate “vulnerable persons” caught up in the drug trade had been a success.{{more}}

He said that during the exercise, 30 persons were arrested – 20 locals and 10 foreigners; 12 firearms were confiscated; 395 rounds of ammunition seized; and approximately 8.5 million marijuana plants and seedlings disposed of. Additionally, 51 marijuana fields and 42,683 lbs of dried and compressed marijuana were destroyed. The operation also recovered significant items such as generators, chainsaws, compressors, sleeping bags and stoves used in the production of illegal substances.

According to well-placed sources, the two-week operation Vincy Pac, which included military personnel from the seven Regional Security Systems (RSS) member countries and Trinidad and Tobago, involved over 500 law enforcement officials and cost over EC$1 million.

The operation was timely, necessary and worth the price. Any time is the ideal time to move against criminality. Any contribution which marijuana cultivation makes to the economy is far outweighed by the negatives associated with the activity.

When one considers the young lives destroyed; the cost of law enforcement; the influx of guns and cocaine (which reportedly are now closely linked with the marijuana trade); the deforestation occurring close to our water catchment areas, it is evident that marijuana’s contribution to our society surely must be an economic and social minus.

But what happens now? Will it be business as usual? What is to stop the marijuana farmers from returning to their “farms” and starting all over again? Will we have to go through this costly exercise again in another year or two? We hope not. We trust that there are plans in place to find a safe, cost-effective way to police our hills on a regular basis to prevent the re-establishment of the farms.

The Prime Minister has spoken of training and financial assistance being made available to young men who come “out of the hills” and want to make a change. We have to move swiftly with the implementation of these social programmes if we hope to reach our target group before frustration takes hold and our young men drift back into undesirable activities.

The protection of the watershed from deforestation was also given as an objective of the exercise. Some attempt should be made at reforestation, perhaps even using some of the former “farmers” as forest guards.

We also need to put greater efforts into seeking out and prosecuting the drug lords, the big boys who make drug mules of our young women and “slaves” (according to our PM) of our young men. We hear of too few of them being brought before the courts.

Finally, we as Vincentians need to take a good look at the double standard which many of us have towards marijuana. For years, we have turned a blind eye to persons smoking weed in public and even boast of the quality of our herb. We have to make up our minds. It is either illegal or it isn’t.

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