Drug traders have penetrated law enforcement agencies in Barbados and are recruiting some of their officers to assist with their nefarious activities.
That’s the view of Comptroller of Customs, Frank Holder, who told Barbados TODAY it was a problem his agency had to deal with continually, even though it could not compete with those who ran the drug trade, when it came to remuneration.
“I think that’s a problem you get in all law enforcement agencies, no matter what the agency is. You’re going to get that challenge of people recruiting people,” Holder said.
“It’s a problem you have to deal with on a continuous basis; because you can’t say you are going to do a background check now and that you’re not going to do anything else with this person for some time.
“It is something that once you’ve done a background check, you’ve got to be continuously monitoring that person; because while that person may have passed your background checks, they may very well faulter somewhere along the line.
“It is something that you’ve got to be continuously doing, and it’s a challenge for all the law enforcement agencies now.”
The comptroller said this meant his department would have to revisit its recruiting processes, to ensure as far as possible, it was hiring the “right” persons.
“We have to look very closely at recruitment into law enforcement agencies. We [Customs] have always been having problems – like any other law enforcement agency. You will have problems from time to time and you have to battle with it. It’s not something you can say is not going to happen to you,” Holder conceded.
He observed that while Barbadians were fond of saying “it can’t happen here”, this was not the case.
“It is not reality. You have to keep your eyes open. You have to dot your Is and cross your Ts,” added the head of Government’s principal revenue collection agency.
He cautioned that it was unrealistic for anyone to believe that his, or other law enforcement agency, had the financial muscle to compete with the resources of the illegal drug operatives, but added:
“What you have to do is hope that the persons who are employing … are honourable people. You have to put programmes in place to make sure that they remain honourable, and you have to be constantly monitoring the people.”
He warned that if this was not done, agencies ran the risk of being infiltrated.
“Not that you will not be infiltrated. You will be. But you have to keep it to a minimum,” the customs head stressed. (EJ)