In the News

In the News



Phillips dismisses Opposition's suspicion of JDF

Observer Reporter
Friday, November 16, 2001

NATIONAL security minister, Peter Phillips, last night dismissed suspicions expressed by the Opposition's security spokesman, Derrick Smith, of a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) involvement in a cocaine-laden Boeing 707 aircraft that left Jamaica and was seized on arrival in Britain last month.

Smith, in a release yesterday, said Phillips needed to "clear the air" in the wake of a disclosure that a JDF helicopter had landed alongside the Boeing 707 aircraft at Stand 1B, west of the new main domestic terminal at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on October 16.

The airplane, which was carrying about 500 kilogrammes of cocaine, departed Montego Bay at about 11:44 pm for the Canary Islands where it refuelled before flying to Britain.

According to Smith, the JDF helicopter, identified as Scorpion 55, requested permission to land alongside the aircraft on the night of October 16 at 10:55, less than an hour before the Boeing 707 was scheduled to take off.

Smith also charged that the JDF chopper departed at 11:56, "12 minutes after the Boeing 707 departed".

But Phillips, in a swift response, said that the JDF helicopter was, at the time, involved in a joint counter narcotics operation in western Jamaica and visited the Sangster International Airport from time to time for refuelling.

Phillips said there was no evidence to implicate any JDF soldier in the incident and said he was disappointed that Smith would make unfounded allegations which could impugn or demoralise members of the JDF who put their lives on the line daily to protect the people of Jamaica against criminal threat.