November 25, 2020

Cayman Islands Customs arrests more suspects: E-cigarettes a concern

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From CI

On 11th May 2017 Officers from the Customs Department arrested a 29 year old male Caymanian national for possession and importation of a liquid identified as a concentrated form of ganja (hash oil). Assistant Collector of Customs Tina Campbell who has responsibility for the Customs Narcotics Enforcement Team said that in the latter part of January 2017, the individual arrived at the Owen Roberts International Airport from Miami. During a Customs inspection of his luggage over 200 disposable vape penswere discovered.  These items did not accompany any receipts nor were they declared.  The Officer conducting the inspection became suspicious and detained the items. A forensic test was conducted on the substance in the vape pens which resulted in the liquid being identified as a concentrated form of ganja (hash oil).  As a result, the individual was arrested for possession and importation of ganja (hash oil).  The investigation continues by the Customs Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Ms. Campbell said that “the Customs Department wishes to remind the public that the importation of ganja remains an offence as does other activities involving ganja. Even though the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Law allows doctors locally to prescribe cannabis extracts it does not give authority to the general public to import any form of ganja or engage in ganja related activities.”  

On Monday 15th May 2017 during a Customs operation by the Customs Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Customs K-9 Unit, officers and officers a 25 year old Caymanian female was arrested at the Owen Roberts International Airport for the offence of possession of a vegetable matter resembling ganja after arriving on a flight from Cayman Brac.  In addition to the vegetable matter resembling ganja, several vape pens suspected to contain a liquid form of ganja was also found in her possession. Investigations into this case are also continuing by the Customs Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Deputy Collector of Customs Jeff Jackson who is responsible for the department’s Border Protection Portfolio said that Customs is seeing an increase in the importation of E-cigarettes, or vape pens, that have increased in popularity recently because of marketing to nicotine users looking for a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, Mr. Jackson warned that “E-cigarettes or vape pens not only contain nicotine, fruit-flavored or other legal substances, but could potentially also be laced with a deadly concoction of chemicals, or other forms of illegal substances known as synthetic drugs or other drugs such as hash oil.”

The Customs Department have recently intercepted and arrested persons importing these devices containing illegal substances, which is a new method for drug users to not only get high, but to do it discreetly, at times in the presence of law enforcement officers, parents and teachers. Mr. Jackson said, “Despite the concealment methods used and the challenges to law enforcement officers to determine what is inside the devices, we have, and will continue to heighten our awareness and maintain a vigilant posture to protect our society against serious threats, often taking proactive measures such as detaining suspected substances or devices for analysis by our forensic laboratory.”

Collector of Customs Charles Clifford said that “Despite the diversity of Customs’ work, there is one goal that is the basis for the department’s many missions – striking the right balance between effectively enforcing the law and ensuring efficient trade facilitation and processing of passengers through our various control points.” Mr. Clifford continued,  “Developing strategies to continue to meet our goals in the face of rapidly growing international trade and a sophisticated and expanding network of criminals is Customs’ biggest challenge; however, we will continue to respond with rigorous, focused enforcement effort, the kind we’re now seeing, with an emphasis on confronting the various threats to our society and national security. These latest arrests demonstrate the effectiveness of our training and vigilance of our Customs Officers and I commend them for their commitment and effectiveness. I ask for the public’s patience and understanding that our efforts are for the greater good of our society”

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