Jamaica coast guards held over stolen drug boat

(Jamaica Observer) A seized drug boat that was being used by the Coast Guard was stolen on Sunday night from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) base at Discovery Bay, St Ann, authoritative sources in the security ministry have confirmed.

The brazen robbery is now the subject of an investigation by the Military Intelligence Unit which has been interrogating 11 members of the Coast Guard who formed the crew of the boat and who have all been taken off duty.

An attempt on Wednesday to get information from the JDF met with stony silence. However, our sources said that the 26-foot Triton go-fast boat had valuable equipment used by the Coast Guard to police Jamaica’s coastal waters.

“It is a very expensive boat, a very fast boat,” a source told the Observer yesterday. “It was seized some time last year after it was intercepted transporting marijuana.”

Although the JDF has been trying to keep the robbery quiet, the Observer was told that it is an open secret in Discovery Bay.

According to our source, the boat was snatched while about six members of the crew were on dive duty at the nearby bauxite pier checking the hull of ships for drugs.

“My understanding is that one member of the Coast Guard was on duty at the base, but he was at the front of the compound,” said one source. “But the base is designed in such a way that you can’t stay at the front and see what’s at the back.”

Word of the robbery apparently started spreading in Discovery Bay by Monday morning and residents got confirmation that something had gone wrong when a JDF helicopter landed at the base Monday night then left with the 11 sailors, apparently for Up Park Camp, the JDF headquarters in Kingston.

Yesterday, our sources speculated that the robbery was committed by drug dealers who most likely observed the routine of the Coast Guard members for some time before making their move.

According to our sources, concerns have been raised in the past in the JDF about the use of go-fast boats seized by the Coast Guard from drug-runners.

“The view is that it is not the ideal situation as it is putting at risk the lives of the coast guards if those from whom the boats have been seized try to reclaim them,” said our source.

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