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PM Gonsalves saddened by the recent arrest of Vincentian pilot

PM Gonsalves saddened by the recent arrest of Vincentian pilot


Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he is saddened by the recent arrest of a Vincentian pilot in Barbados on drug trafficking charges.{{more}}

Gonsalves, who is the lead CARICOM prime ministerial spokesman on aviation, said he was equally disappointed that pilot Keith Allen was an employee of LIAT, in which his government is a major shareholder.

“I am personally saddened, I know the family [of the pilot] involved. These are people of good standing, God-fearing people, so this has personally affected me,” he told the SUNDAY SUN in an interview.

Allen, 34, of Arnos Vale, appeared in court here Friday, where he admitted to smuggling Bds $130,000 worth of marijuana in eight packets through Grantley Adams International Airport, on November 23.

The pilot, who returns to court on December 19 for sentencing, was said to be off duty at the time of the incident, even though he was dressed in his full LIAT uniform.

His arrest has sparked fresh concerns about the porous nature of the borders between Kingstown and Bridgetown.

However, Gonsalves said he was generally satisfied with the level of cooperation between the two states on drug interdiction matters, even though he acknowledged that involvement of airline personnel in this latest episode was certainly “something we need to watch”.

“You have systems and human beings run systems, and we have weaknesses but we naturally review all of the systems on an ongoing basis,” he said.

In terms of the latest incident, he reported that investigations were ongoing.

“We have to find out first what went wrong; how did this happen and all of those things are still up in the air.”

Gonsalves said that even though St. Vincent as a marijuana-producing state was not without fault, neither was Barbados, which he categorized as a “consuming” nation.

He said it was noteworthy that on account of tighter controls between the two neighbouring states, some drug traffickers in Barbados were now forced to grow marijuana domestically, as evidenced by the recent destruction of several ganja fields around the island.

Gonsalves said Barbados, which has a population of roughly 280,000, also needed to be mindful of the impact of illegal drugs on productivity and health.

In the wake of the Dudus Coke affair in Jamaica, he also said the Caribbean on the whole needed to guard against the emergence of “micro duduses”. (KJ- SUNDAY SUN)