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St Vincent remains top cannabis source in the region

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St Vincent and the Grenadines continues to be the source for the majority of marijuana in the region, a recent report from the United States Department of State says.{{more}}

The 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), which was submitted to the United States Congress on March 7, 2012, says, according to officials, marijuana producers have recently started labeling their product for export.

Police have also observed a trend of younger nationals entering the trade, the report says.

“Regional trade has also increased with Trinidad and Tobago sending drugs and guns in exchange for cannabis. Officials describe a “marked increase” in remittance flows. According to local officials, St. Vincent has over 300 acres under marijuana cultivation. During 2011, government officials encountered no drug laboratories, yet eradicated 70 acres of marijuana, destroyed 1,696,021 plants and seized 10.2 MT of cannabis, 39 kg of cocaine and 180 cocaine rocks,” the annual report, which is in its 29th edition says.

During 2011, Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines authorities reported 522 drug related prosecutions, 322 convictions, and 432 persons arrested for drug offenses. Police officials say they need more vehicles, equipment, training and logistical support for their operations to be effective.

However, government officials have stated they cannot combat the long term effects of the drug trade solely through enforcement.

“Police in the region do not have the equipment or training they need to be effective. Outmoded criminal codes hinder a strong response to organized crime groups,” the report says.

“The Regional Security System (RSS), a treaty-based international body to which all seven nations belong, has begun a regional polygraph vetting program, but corruption remains a stubborn problem in some countries, undermining trust within and between EC law enforcement organizations. Collectively, the EC nations communicate and coordinate poorly in attacking transnational crime. The EC islands and the RSS participate in the U.S. led Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). CBSI-funded law enforcement training began in the first half of 2011. CBSI funded equipment deliveries will begin in the first half of 2012. All EC countries are signatories to the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.”

The report is the State Department’s comprehensive assessment of foreign governments’ efforts to deal with their domestic narcotics problems and meet their international responsibilities, as set out in UN narcotics and crime treaties. The report covers 115 countries and jurisdictions.

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