Justice Minister Duncan reacts to story about St. Maarten as drug smuggling haven

POSTED: 04/26/12 12:54 PM

“Regrettable nonsense and wild allegations”

St. Maarten – Justice Minister Roland Duncan has some issues with an article that appeared in the Daily Herald last Saturday under the headline Worries about St. Maarten as drug smuggling haven. In a statement the Minister sent to all local media, he explains the situation St. Maarten finds itself in and how his ministry is handling the situation. He rejected all statements as “regrettable nonsense and wild allegations.”

The article mentions that, “According to the US State Department, a part of the one third of the total world production of cocaine which is smuggled via the Caribbean is being smuggled via Sint Maarten’s borders.” The article fails to mention the exact figures of how much of the drugs that appear in Europe or America actually come from or have passed through Sint Maarten’s borders, Duncan points out.

The minister stated that the use of container-scans and electronic equipment in Europe and America by far outweighs what is done in Sint Maarten. “We make use of all the available man power and equipment. Before 10-10-10 the Customs Department had a staff of 8, assisted by 5 technical assistance colleagues from the Netherlands. Due to the 1,5 year contracts and after many failed requests for extensions only an additional 8 months were granted. So the Dutch assistance ended in August 2011.  The cost for the period 10-10-10 to August 2011 exceeded 500,000 guilders which was paid by Sint Maarten to Holland.”

The staff of the Customs Department has since been increased with 11 new Bavpolers. “The current staffing is 21, which is the highest the Customs Department on Sint Maarten has ever been. In the coming months we will hopefully add 16 more to the growing staff,” the minister stated.

Duncan also commented on remarks by the Dutch MP Lucassen who stated in the article that: “Even for Caribbean standards the Customs Department of Sint Maarten is a joke.”

“The MP failed to identify the Caribbean Standards he was referring to, which again reeks of unsubstantiated noises with bad faith intentions.  In addition the MP continued to state based on a recent crime view analysis by the Dutch National Police Service that the US is “very worried” that a part of the smuggling goes via Sint Maarten’s harbors. Truth is told, this most recent crime view analysis was conducted since in 2009 / 2010 and is therefore not as recent as the MP indicates,” Duncan stated.

The minister also referred to remarks by the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies to the Second Chamber. “She said that  the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard was doing a good job in combating drug trafficking.  In fact,  the Coast Guard functions under local authority and not independently, so the assumption that the Customs Department is not functioning properly or unable to fulfill its tasks is nothing short of a bogus, outrageous claim and another attempt to cast a negative light on Sint Maarten and its development as a new Country,” Duncan stated.

The Minister (Spies – ed.) further states that “the plan of approach for justice was not progressing as it should.” Duncan: “This leads me to ask the following question: why? Could it possibly be partly due to a sabotage of 1.2 million guilders in project funding by a Dutch civil servant employed by the same Minister?”

For the record, Duncan presented the following closing remark: “Sint Maarten is most certainly not a True Smuggling Paradise. That a Dutch MP and a Minister would spout such nonsense is regrettable, as they failed to provide any facts whatsoever to substantiate their wild allegations.”

 

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