More than $13 million in illegal drugs went up in smoke this morning as officers of the police Drug Squad dumped some three years worth of evidence down the furnace at Seawell, Christ Church.
The officers burned over a ton of processed cannabis and 25,360 plants with a combined street value in excess of $5 million, as well as 358.3 pounds of cocaine estimated at $8.1 million.
When the smoke cleared, Public Relations Officer Acting Assistant Superintendent David Welch told reporters who witnessed the destruction of the contraband that the items were at the centre of court hearings dating back to 2013.
“The illegal drugs came into police possession in several ways – through the force’s interdiction exercises, through drug landings, search warrants and other investigations,” he disclosed.
“Also note that we would have destroyed a small amount of liquid cannabis. Also, the drugs involved in the destruction would have also come from cases that would have been adjudicated before the court and where sampling of bulk drugs was done and a certificate issued,” added the police spokesman.
He explained that as long as a certificate had been issued, the Commissioner of Police had the authority to order the destruction of the drugs that were sampled.
Welch said he was pleased that this much illicit drugs had been taken off the streets, but stressed that the Force would like to do even more.
“We would love to be able to go after more drugs. Obviously we are elated that through our efforts and also with the assistance of the public that we can at least get this type of drugs off the street, but I believe more can done with the assistance of the public.”
The senior police officer pleaded with Barbadians to report instances of drug possession and/or cultivation by calling Crime Stoppers, reminding everyone that this could be done anonymously.
Welch also revealed that while law enforcement agencies were realizing success in stemming the flow of imported narcotics, this was having an unintended and unwelcome effect on marijuana cultivation here.
“We continue to see a rise in cultivation [of cannabis] because yearly we are confiscating or seizing more drugs being cultivated locally . . . we know that the cultivation is on the rise.
“I believe that it is through our efforts, our interdiction efforts along the coast, that we are seeing this rise in cultivation. We know that the quality may not be to the standard of others, but I believe that is what has led them to continue to cultivate in Barbados,” he noted.
“Our efforts to stem importation has given us great rewards, so I believe our importation, the numbers of importation are down . . . and again this has given rise to the cultivation,” Welch concluded.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY earlier this year, Acting Commanding Officer of the Barbados Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Mark Peterson said law enforcement authorities had intercepted twice as much marijuana and made three times as many drugs-related arrests in 2015 than they did the previous year.
He said at the time, that between January and mid-December 2015 the Coast Guard, which is responsible for patrolling the island’s territorial waters, as well as drug interdiction, netted over 4,600 pounds of compressed marijuana and 36 kilogrammes of cocaine during 29 counter-narcotic operations. Additionally, he said they seized 17 vessels and arrested or detained 31 persons in a joint effort with the Regional Security System, the Drug Squad and the Marine Police.
By comparison, the Coast Guard commander said then, in 2014, 72 kilogrammes of cocaine, 2,736 pounds of marijuana and seven vessels were seized, while there were 11 arrests.