The Jamaica Customs Contraband Enforcement Team was established in 1987, by an initiative of the United States Customs Service. The unit came into existence as a result of the increasing volume of marijuana that was being trafficked from Jamaica to the United States, by commercial conveyances, that is, cargo vessels, and passenger aircrafts. The country's shipping and airline industries were enduring severe pressures from draconian fines levied on the operators of commercial ships and aircrafts detected with marijuana in the United States.
These trafficking activities created major disruptions in the shipping industry, critically the trans-shipment operations, as the International shipping lines that were subjected to huge fines and detention of their vessels, threatened to withdraw from Jamaica. The economy suffered from the loss of millions of US dollars as a result of the trafficking activities at the time, as some shipping lines suspended operations. In addition, the national airline, Air Jamaica, also endured the punishment of heavy fines and detention of aircrafts.
The concept of the CET is that of a "specialized enforcement team" with the fundamental functions of detecting violations of the Customs and other agency laws concerning cargo transactions, passenger processing, carrier arrivals and departures and take appropriate enforcement actions. The unit would be divorced from daily routine customs operations and effectively conduct intensified inspections.
The primary objective of the Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) is to establish effective systems for the protection against the risk of illegal imports or exports.Other objectives are as follows:
- To establish and refine profiles of "high risk" passengers, conveyances and cargo through a process of selectivity. This allows officers to work more effectively.
- To intensify examinations of "high risk" cargo, conveyances and passengers.
- To facilitate processing of legitimate or "low risk" passengers, conveyances and cargo.
- To increase the number and size of seizures of contraband such as narcotic drugs, firearm and ammunition.
- To increase the number of arrest for violation of customs and narcotics laws thereby discouraging potential perpetrators.
- To establish deterrent factors against contraband smuggling by increased physical presence, regular searches and special operations.
The CET has been involved in significant seizures of marijuana, cocaine, heroine, guns, ammunition and pyrotechnics, motor vehicles and boats, uncustomed goods, including pesticides, chemicals and goods imported/exported contrary to the import/export restrictions and goods which the correct duties were not collected.