Crackers laced with cocaine, cannabis concealed in aerosol cans, motorised wheel chairs, clothes hangers or in dictionaries are some of the ingenious ways that drug dealers have employed to get illegal drugs in and out of Barbados.
Local customs officials were made aware of these and other novel measures by the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Drug Squad Investigator, Constable Damien Bennett, during a one-day workshop held by the National Council for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCPADD).?? The seminar, held at the Warrens Office Complex, St. Michael, formed part of the activities for Drug Awareness Month.
Constable Bennett said the session was designed to make Customs Officers more street-wise and bring them up-to-date on some of the concealment methods used by smugglers.??
Giving some statistics on the illicit drug trade, Constable Bennett cited those compiled by the Barbados Drug Squad, which showed that 17,239 cannabis plants were seized last year, compared with 10,994 in 2010 and 10,167 in 2009.
The drug squad investigator described 2010 as a record year for the seizure of cannabis, with 10148.412 kilos seized, compared with 4087.81 kilos in 2009 and 6373.901 kilos in 2011.
Last year, the Drug Squad’s counter-narcotics activities also made a significant dent in the amount of cocaine that was available for disbursement. Constable Bennett disclosed that 143.885 kilos of cocaine was seized last year compared with 66.679 kilos in 2010, and 96.55 kilos in 2009.?? "Ecstasy" a known date-rape drug used in the developed world, has found its way to our shores, and last year, one pill was intercepted by drug squad officers.
Constable Bennett also stated that almost every week, Barbados was used as a trans-shipment point for cocaine destined for Canada and the United Kingdom. "While we try to concentrate on one end of the airport, at the other end, a lot of drugs are moving out of the island…?? It is just the challenge to have enforcement on the departures from the airport because what we do when persons are coming in is very hard to do when persons are leaving," Constable Bennett pointed out.
The lawman also produced figures on the number of persons arrested for drug-related offences, a break-down by country, of origin, as well as the age ranges of perpetrators arrested last year.
He said there were 233 arrests in 2011 compared with 253 and 192 in 2010 and 2009, respectively. An analysis by country revealed that 160 Barbadians, 236 Jamaicans, one American, five St. Lucians, 15 Guyanese, 15 Vincentians and one offender from St. Maarten, were arrested by drug squad personnel for various offences.
The Police Officer also disclosed that more perpetrators within the 35-38 age group were arrested for illegal drugs last year. According to him, there were 42 arrests in that group, and this was followed by 39 in the 27-30 age group; 33 in the 23-26 age category; 24 in the 19-22; nine in the 43-46 age group; 11 for both the 47-50 and 50 and over age groups; three in the 15-18 age group and one in the 11-14 age group.??
Constable Bennett urged participants to "be aware of the main drugs trafficked in Barbados, and the signs and symptoms exhibited by a person who has used or abused illegal drugs."
Meanwhile, Acting Deputy Comptroller of Customs, David Stuart, described the workshop as timely as the department continued to place emphasis on the training and retraining of officers to assist in fighting the war against illegal drugs.