Barbados is an attractive transshipment point for drugs from Latin America and the Caribbean into Europe because it is a well-serviced hub for flights to and from the continent, Europe’s top diplomat here has contended.
Therefore, it is important that law enforcement officials work closely with their counterparts across the globe to stem the flow of drugs, according to Michael Barfod, head of the European Union delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
Speaking today at the opening ceremony of an Airport Communication Programme (AIRCOP) training seminar, Barfod emphasized the need for a joint approach, saying the drug pushers operated across borders and those fighting the illicit drugs trade needed to extend their reach.
“We must learn to anticipate new challenges and seek innovative solutions so that we can respond quickly and effectively to rapidly evolving trends. In order to be that step ahead, we must join forces, build a common agenda and work together very closely,” the EU ambassador said.
AIRCOP is a multi-agency, anti-trafficking initiative aimed at strengthening detection, interdiction and investigative capacities of participating airports in illicit drug source and transit countries. It is funded by the European Commission and supported by Canada.
The European diplomat stressed that staging the AIRCOP programme in Barbados did not mean that drug interdiction at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) was poor.
“The programme is meant to strengthen the existing drug detection systems, and more importantly, foster a level of
inter-agency co-operation between immigration, customs and the police with the establishment of a joint airport interdiction task force,” the ambassador explained.
“Such a task force with its specialized training would also be able to combat the importation of drugs that are destined for consumption locally. And as we know drug addiction is a growing problem in Barbados as is reflected in the media as well as court and police reports.”
Barfod told participants gathered at GAIA for the seminar that the AIRCOP project was part of a wider comprehensive initiative launched in 2009, the Cocaine Route Programme.
He pointed out that the AIRCOP programme was the first of its kind to deal in a comprehensive way with the fight against organized crime and the flow of illicit drugs by providing support and technical advice to partner countries along the entire routes.
The ambassador disclosed that approximately 50 million euros had been committed so far and about 40 countries in West Africa, Latin and Central America as well as in the Caribbean had already benefited from the flagship programme.