Trinidad Drug Bust – A Cautionary Tale for The Caribbean

Anton Edmunds is the head of The Edmunds Group

Anton Edmunds, head of The Edmunds Group

The discovery of over US $100 million of cocaine hidden in juice cans bearing the brand name of a major Trinidadian company at the end of 2013 caused quite a stir in that country, with statements of commitment by government and the manufacturing industry association alike on a need to protect the brand name of the company and the country. While investigations continue as to exactly who was responsible for exploiting gaps in the export control process, the fundamentals are clear. Supply chain security in the Caribbean is weak, and known local and regional solutions need to be applied and strengthened.

More known as an exporter of empty containers, the Caribbean region has consistently failed to develop a framework of standards that it needs, to protect itself from being used as a conduit for contraband bound for the shores of its largest trading partners. Drug busts in Europe and Canada shed light on the weakness of the current piecemeal efforts to address trade security and expose efforts by multilateral agencies such as the Organization of American States (OAS) as woefully inadequate. The failure of institutions such as CARICOM and regional trade and security ministers to work towards regional standards in the supply chain security mechanism is probably the most glaring factor that has served to leave the Caribbean region exposed to those within and outside of this space committed to the traffic of illicit cargo.

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