HAVANA, June 6 Cuba continues to implement a “zero tolerance” policy on drugs, with only nine cases of international trafficking having been detected by local authorities so far in 2018, a top customs official said Wednesday.
According to William Perez, deputy chief of Cuba’s customs bureau (AGR), nine foreign citizens have been arrested after trying to bring drugs into the country, mostly cocaine.
“In Cuba, there is no trafficking or regular use of illicit drugs. Our policy is to become a wall in confronting this scourge,” Perez told local media.
The Cuban official said that in 2017 the AGR intercepted 39 trafficking operations at airports, ports and other border crossings, with a total of 57 kg of narcotics being seized.
Cases of local consumption amount to 25 so far in 2018 following a total of 57 in 2017, with those involved mainly receiving warnings or hefty fines.
However, those found guilty of drug trafficking can face prison terms of up to 15 years in Cuba.
Perez explained that drug trafficking in Cuba has changed in recent years, with smugglers seeking to bring the drugs into the country instead of using Cuba as a stopover to take the substances to a third nation.
“The situation has changed and it’s very complex to detect the new methods which traffickers use to conceal the drugs,” said the official.
“Based on the government’s commitment against this scourge, we have modern detection equipment at airports, ports, marinas and postal customs controls, which join the traditional use of trained dogs,” he added.
Perez said that the AGR has scanners at airports and ports as well as specialized equipment able to detect small quantities of drugs regardless of how they are concealed.
“Our priority is to confront drug trafficking and prevent the illicit substances from entering our nation. We do so in a complex global scenario, marked by the increase in the production of some drugs as well as the legalization of marijuana in several countries,” he stated.
According to Perez, drug consumption in the island is very low and reaches only 0.003 percent of the population due to a “successful” prevention strategy which has been implemented for more than half a century.
“We have zero tolerance as a state policy,” he said.