by Emmanuel Joseph
The island-wide drug eradication campaign embarked on by security forces in Barbados, seems to be paying major dividends.
In their latest discovery, the Drug Squad yesterday raided a quarter-acre farm in a remote area of Pot House, St. John and uprooted more than 1,000 of the tallest ever mature cannabis plants found here.
Describing them as trees and not plants, head of the Drug Squad, Superintendent Grafton Phillips, told Barbados TODAY this morning the find was, in some cases, taller than fully grown sugar cane plants.
The exact number of trees seized was 1,343, ranging in height from 15 feet to 18 feet and hidden in a heavily wooded location. However, police said the task was not an easy one, as it took the joint forces of the Drug Squad and the Barbados Defence Force more than eight and a half hours to complete the operation.
Police attributed this to the sizes of the trees, the difficulty of the terrain and the extent of the area under cultivation. The Royal Barbados Police Force has pledged to maintain vigilance, considering that the cultivation of cannabis was on the rise, he added.
“We are seeing many people continuing their efforts to plant drugs all over the island in the most remote areas,” observed Phillips.
He said there has been a big jump in the number of seizures of cannabis plants so far this year, when compared to the year before.
“For last year, we seized 21,030 plants and this year, we have seized 23,849 so far. So you see there is a big jump, and you have another quarter of the year to go,” the Drug Squad head disclosed.
“We are not finding as many (plants) in cane fields as before,” he added, pointing out that members of the force had not been able to charge many people for cultivating cannabis in the remote areas, either because they do not remain on location or they return after police have left.
Phillips said that most of those arrested were either unemployed or average wage earners. He said, too, that while a few females were arrested for cultivating “small” amounts in their yards or residences, most held were men who grew the plants on a larger scale in remote locations.
“Not only young people are charged for cultivation, but men in their 50s as well. Up to this week, we charged a 57 year old man,” he pointed out.
As far as drugs landings along the coastline were concerned, the police superintendent informed this paper that there had been a lull.
“At the moment there is a lull in that. Maybe it is due to the sea conditions,” he suggested. “We are seeing small amounts coming through the courier services and postal services. As far as the port is concerned, we have put measures in place and we have not had many seizures recently. The measures seem to be working or people are finding other means.”
Police are appealing to members of the public to assist the force to break the back of the local and imported drugs trade, including the provision of information on the cultivation of plants. [email protected]