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Posted June 03, 2003 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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The Associated Press

Cuban authorities announced Monday they had broken up a Jamaica-based drug trafficking ring and had convicted and sentenced 17 people to prison terms ranging from five years to life behind bars.

A communique published in the Communist Party daily Granma said 14 of the people were Cubans and three were Jamaicans. It did not say when the defendants were convicted and sentenced, nor did it provide specifics about the among of narcotics involved.

Cuba early this year launched a battle to rid the communist-island with a small, but growing drug trade.

Those who received life sentence were identified as Osmond Brooks, of Jamaica, and Gerardo Gonzalez Prieto, a Cuban discotheque employee. The statement said Brooks was convicted of supplying drugs, primarily cocaine, to Gonzalez Prieto for sale to discotheque patrons.

In the same case, Alecia Kerryann McLean and Leroy Anthony Clayton, both of Jamaica, were convicted of bringing cocaine into Cuba for sale. McLean was sentenced to 20 years and Clayton to 15 years in prison.

The other defendants included a brother, sister and niece of Gonzalez Prieto.

Strategically located in the center of the Caribbean, Cuba between 1995 and 2002 made at least 175 drug trafficking busts at the island’s airports, and arrested more than 200 foreigners.

Although most earlier cases were attempts to use Cuba as a transshipment point for transporting drugs to the United States and Europe, island authorities have been worried by a growing trend to create a market for drugs on the island.

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