The Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control Service (CBC) is particularly concerned about the increasing importation of the illicit drug Fentanyl to the Cayman Islands.
In what appears to be an emerging trend, CBC has intercepted and seized Fentanyl in two separate recent cases into which investigations are ongoing.
The production, handling and consumption of Fentanyl can have deadly consequences as is indicated by the unprecedented number of Fentanyl-related sudden deaths in the USA and Canada.
According to November 2021 data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were “indications of an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. during a 12 –month period ending April 2021. This trend shows an increase of 28.5% from the 78, 056 deaths during the same period the year before.”
Director of CBC Charles Clifford expressed his concern, saying, “Drug abuse is generally very harmful to a person’s health and the recent trend involving the importation of illicitly produced Fentanyl is very worrying and cause for significant concern.”
He continued, “We are continuing our efforts to intercept illegal drugs at our borders, but I fear that it is only a matter of time before Fentanyl is listed as the primary cause of death in some sudden death cases locally.”
Users and handlers of Fentanyl have been known to experience symptoms such as hemorrhaging, severe physical pain and organ failure, which often lead to death.
Additional CBC concerns relate to local cases in which milder forms of controlled drugs were seized and found to be infused or tainted with more lethal substances, including Fentanyl.
Over the past two and a half months CBC has seized a total of 288 Fentanyl tablets; 18 lbs. of ganja concealed in luggage; 6.95 grams of cocaine hydrochloride; 0.23 grams of cocaine base; several ganja infused cigarettes, lollipops and other candy forms; and eight oxymorphone tablets.
Senior Deputy Director of CBC Bruce Smith underscored these serious concerns, saying, “Illicit Fentanyl is produced in clandestine labs and is often mixed with other drugs such as cocaine and heroin, which multiplies the danger and risk of sudden death from consuming it.”
The CBC leadership hopes the public will understand and heed not only the criminal aspect of illicit drug use, but also the severe associated health and safety impacts. This worry is exacerbated due to interceptions in which such extremely dangerous drugs are often disguised in unassuming shapes and colours and manufactured in a variety of methods. Illicitly produced Fentanyl comes in many colours and forms including tablet, powder, crystals and liquid.
There is significant concern not only for the health and safety of the general public but also for the welfare of Law Enforcement personnel, at the border and elsewhere, who put themselves in harm’s way merely in the daily course of their duties.
CBC Investigations and frontline teams will continue their efforts and utilise all available means at their disposal to respond to all threats at the Cayman Islands border. Part of this effort is a combined approach and an enduring partnership with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) in the fight against illegal substances.