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Upsurge in drug trafficking worries Barbados authorities

Upsurge in drug trafficking worries Barbados authorities

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Allegations made by a leading intelligence operative in Barbados that law authorities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are doing little to stem the flow of marijuana into Barbados have been refuted by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Lenroy Brewster.{{more}}

“This is unfounded…we are doing everything in our power to combat this, and we have made substantial headway,” Brewster said in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

In an article in the online newspaper Barbados Today on April 23, 2010, the intelligence operative is quoted as saying that there has been an upsurge in marijuana cultivation since the recent eradication exercise called “Vincy Pac” little over a year ago.

The article went onto say that the increased drug smuggling into Barbados appeared to be as a result of upcoming entertainment events such as Crop-Over Festival and the ICC 20/20 cricket tournament.

Head of the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Narcotics Division, Superintendent Grafton Phillips, also told Barbados Today that there had been an upsurge in trafficking activity since Vincy Pac. The article pointed out that police in Barbados have stopped more marijuana from St Vincent so far for 2010 than for all of 2009. The article stated that police have confiscated over 4,142.97 kilograms of cannabis so far this year, compared to 4,087 kilograms for all of 2009.

In addressing the allegations, Brewster said that the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), which spreads from Owia in North Windward to Chateaubelair on the Leeward coast, has made significant strides in controlling these illicit activities. Brewster said that the Coast Guard Unit also assists in patrolling the entry and exit ports on both sides of the island, but admitted that there are still cracks that persons may slip through.

“It is difficult for us to man all these ports…sometimes we may be lucky enough in apprehending these criminals, but we maintain a hands on approach in tackling these issues,” Brewster said.

Just last week, on April 22, 2010, at about 10 : 45pm, a joint operation involving the Barbados Drug Squad and the Barbados Coast Guard, off Prospect, St James, Barbados, intercepted a boat with two Vincentian nationals onboard. A shooting incident occurred, which resulted in the death of one of the two men. The other man received a gunshot injuries and was up to press time receiving medical attention.

Up to press time, SEARCHLIGHT was unable to ascertain the identity of these men.

Bajan police seized 24 polythene bags and 23 taped packages of compressed cannabis, weighing 850 kilograms.

Five days earlier, two other Vincentian nationals, Paul Kirk Quow, 41, mason, of Barrouallie, and Cardel St Clair Jacobs, 33, Electrician, of Clifton, Union Island, were charged in connection with a drug seizure off Speightstown, St Peter, Barbados. Both were remanded in custody until May 20.

The veteran cop noted that the northern village of Fancy has proven to be one of the most problematic ports since there is hardly any police presence there.

Commissioner of Police Keith Miller, in a recent press conference, said that the police are looking into the possibility of establishing a police station at Fancy.

“The placement of police station in the area will definitely help in our strategy. Persons seem to operate mostly from these ports because it is a safe haven,” Brewster stated.

Commenting on the issue of the “Vincy Pac” drug eradication exercise, Brewster admitted although a substantial quantity of marijuana plantations were destroyed, he believes that many were left untouched.

“There was still a considerable amount of marijuana still left. When it looked like we made a real big dent, it wasn’t all that big, per se,” he conceded. Brewster stated that it is not that the police did not do all in their power to eradicate the marijuana plantations, but because of the mountainous terrain, the exercise could not have been executed as they would have wished.

Brewster added that even after Vincy Pac was concluded, large amounts of seizures still took place because persons had stored drugs in places which might have proved difficult for police to access.

However, a well placed source in the local constabulary told SEARCHLIGHT that even though police personnel are dispatched around the country, the weakest link is the inadequacy of the Coast Guard resources.

“We have a serious problem when it comes to our Coast Guard. We don’t have enough vessels to go back and forth to cover all the hot spots,” the source noted.

“It is not because we are not doing anything, but if we had more of these resources we could have been doing better,” the source said.