The number of individuals interdicted for illegal substances has increased by as much as 50 per cent across Barbados and the region.

Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, made this point, while calling on drug commanders from across the region and the Organization of American States to put their collective heads together to see how the region can overcome the challenges presently being faced in that area.

He was at the time addressing the official opening ceremony of the 2016 Pre-IDEC (International Drug Enforcement Conference) 22nd Annual Caribbean Regional Conference at the Crane Resort this morning.

???One of the things that came out of my deliberations with my national security colleagues during 2015 was the significant challenges we were all having with drugs and guns because they seem to go together, and ??? we saw an increased use of the region for illegal substances,??? Mr. Brathwaite pointed out.

He added that given the successes achieved with similar problems in Colombia and Mexico, the region was being used as a transshipment point more over the last two years.??However, the Attorney General cautioned that while there was a time when it was thought that there was no need for concern because the region was just a transshipment point, ???those days are long gone???.

???In all of our communities we are seeing on a daily basis the significant impact it is having on the young lives within our communities; young lives who are supposed to be the pillars of our communities, who are supposed to be the most productive citizens???,??? he lamented, while noting that Barbados??? challenges were also mirrored in the region.

He urged those present to use the opportunity to collaborate to see how best they could do more with less as a region, given the serious financial challenges faced by territories.

Mr. Brathwaite listed six points which he urged delegates to consider during their deliberations. ???Are there any benefits to be derived from legalising small quantities of marijuana or legalising marijuana full stop; how do we stem the flow of illegal guns coming into the region; how do we divert more young people away from illegal activities; given our scarce resources, how can we do more with less; in communities where illegal drugs have created an underground economy, if this is taken away how do you provide employment for mostly unskilled individuals; and what strategies can we employ to ensure that the new psychotropic drugs don???t take root in our communities,??? he outlined.

He reminded those present that they had a responsibility to ensure that policymakers were able to use the resources available in order to have a more meaningful impact on societies.

Charg?? d???Affaires for Bridgetown, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Laura Griesmer, stressed the need for continued cooperation among the member states.??Noting that the Regional Security System coordinated closely with the US Navy and the Coast Guard, Ms. Griesmer added that the conference set the stage for cooperation, intelligence training, and joint training over the coming years.??

Law enforcement officers from over 20 Caribbean territories, as well as Peru, Canada, Colombia, and the United Kingdom, are attending the four-day conference.

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