Barbados did not have an islandwide drug trafficking problem 35 years ago – but now it does, retired Deputy Police Commissioner Bertie Hinds has said.
Tracing the problem since the 1980s up to its current explosion of violent attacks and reprisals, Hinds said it was the arrival of crack cocaine in Barbados in 1986 that cause a dramatic shift in the nature of drug dealing.
Hinds told a panel discussion: “Let me take you back to 1983 when I was a police sergeant on the East Coast of Barbados assigned to Belleplaine and District ‘F’ station. Between those two stations we had no drug problem whatsoever. Crab Hill police station had no drug problem, District D had little or no drug problem, Holetown had little or no drug problem. Drug problems were all centred in Bridgetown and the suburbs.”
The former senior cop who was speaking to an audience in Alexandra School Hall on Sunday evening on the topic “The Truth About Drugs” painted a drastically altered landscape of the crime.
He said: “The whole of Barbados now has a distinct drug culture and drug sub culture. In 2018 every parish in Barbados, every police district has a serious drug problem. We have grown from 1983 from a non-drug culture to a bustling and mushrooming drug culture. That is the extent of the problem that we have. It is manifesting itself in the serious criminal activity we are experiencing in Barbados.”
Hinds said the arrival of crack cocaine onto shores of Barbados was the turning point. But he credited swift, tough and constant police action as one of the reasons for keeping it under control back then.
Hinds told the audience: “Our real drug problem started in 1986 with the arrival of crack cocaine in Barbados. Drugs used to be grown in the gullies in St Joseph but you didn’t have many users. It was almost a weekend protocol every Saturday morning, in the wee hours of the morning, we are in the gullies of St Andrew and St Joseph led by that man called Jazaar [Alvin] Griffith, retired assistant commissioner.
“[At] Fosters Funland (in St Andrew), we made that a police nest down there. In St Joseph and St Andrew we rooted out the drugs from in those parts of the island. I remember in the Bush Hall area some people grew marijuana in their backyards….But coming along the St Lucy area nobody planted drugs in St Lucy till after the mid-1980s.”
The retired lawman said the pressure from police along with imported drugs from neighbouring countries was the cause of the local crop dying out at that time.
He continued: “There was competition between what was growing here and what was imported from our sister islands in the Caribbean.
“Then there was that fierce competition because the quality of the drugs coming from those jurisdictions was better than the one grown in Barbados and the crops died out because of police pressure and because of the inferiority of the drugs.”