Attorney General Dale Marshall strongly believes some business owners are using their establishments to bring guns into the country.
And he has warned, that any owner who is found culpable will feel the full weight of the law.
His strong position is getting support from a prominent businessman and former head of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce, Eddie Abed who said at a time when Barbados was battling increased gun crimes, any measures to catch the perpetrators were welcomed, once done fairly.
“I am a Barbadian first and a businessman second and I am as concerned about gun violence as every other Barbadian,” Abed said.
“I would applaud the Attorney General with any action that he deems necessary to curb the importation and smuggling of guns and drugs into this country and I would back him wholeheartedly, but I wouldn’t want this to become a situation where it can be seen as being over zealous and perhaps certain individuals are targeted,” Abed added.
Marshall’s warning to the local business community came at the St Christopher Primary School yesterday evening, as he reviewed the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) performance in its first six months in office. While admitting that firearms were perhaps the “biggest problem” in Barbados today,” the AG said police might be forced to increase searches within the business community.
Marshall said of the nine murders committed for the year, illegal guns had been used in four of them and he promised that no stone would be left unturned in efforts to rid Barbados of illegal guns.
“We do know that there are connections with the business community and I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, the same way that none of you can feel safe as long as some of these guns are on the streets, I want to make it clear that any member of the business community who either allows or facilitates his shipment to be used as a method of getting guns into Barbados, will not be safe from law enforcement authorities either,” Marshall said to rapturous applause.
“The same way the police is going to have to knock on house doors and search people’s cars and those kind of things, the business community will have to feel some of the weight if they are involved in this. There will be no sacred cows in this exercise.”
In response to Marshall’s comments, Abed told Barbados TODAY he had no problem with the suggestions.
“If it is a blanket approach and all individuals and businesses are equally searched and action taken against them to ensure that they are running a clean and straight business, then I would be all for it. We do have a problem and it can’t be business as usual and I think any citizen would recognize that whatever is necessary to deal with it should be absolutely explored.”
The AG also revealed that as the country stepped up its fight against crime and the importation of illegal guns, additional scanners would soon be placed at the Bridgetown Port. He maintained that due to a lack of scanners at the port, too many packages and containers were being allowed to leave without being scanned.
Marshall revealed that only about six per cent of containers passing through the Port were being scanned.
“The Prime Minister is making some funds available so that the port can get some additional scanners, so within the next few months the Port will have an additional two scanners,” he disclosed.
“The truth is you can’t scan every container. Customs doesn’t search every suitcase that comes through the airport and in many respects a lot of these things are intelligence driven. But the fact is, we need to scan and we need to subject for examination a significantly greater percentage of containers than we currently do if we are going to be successful at seizing some of these weapons.
“Those additional scanners are going to make a world of difference,” Marshall assured. Meanwhile, the AG said a recent decision to call on the forces of 80 Barbados Defence Force (BDF) personnel to assist the Royal Barbados Police Force had paid dividends. He said since those soldiers had began participating in patrols and traffic stops, there had been a lull in reports of violent crimes taking place.