May 4, 2007

THE MARIJUANA TRADE between St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados remains one of the most worrisome issues that the Regional Security System (RSS) has to deal with and the man that directs marine and aviation matters for the RSS says that disruption of this trade is crucial.{{more}}

“We need to disrupt that St Vincent to Barbados drug trafficking route,” said Lieutenant Leonard Cox when he spoke to SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week.

Cox was in St Vincent to address the commencement of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard’s Basic Seamanship Course, which is accredited by the RSS.

He also highlighted the shortage and inadequacy of vessels, which he identified as one of the major stumbling blocks in the way of fight against the drug trade in the territories of the RSS.

Lieutenant Cox said that while the seven member countries of the RSS including St Vincent and the Grenadines continue to wage war against the drug trade, they are shot in the foot by the inadequacy of the assets that they work with.

“We need larger and more up to date vessels to really do the job,” Lieutenant Cox said.

He said that what was needed to really cramp the style of the drug traffickers where vessels capable of being in the really deep waters – where most of the illegal activities take place.

Cox said however that the Governments of the countries in the RSS have committed to upgrading the assets of the various coast guards and law enforcement entities so that the fight could be more efficiently taken to the drug traffickers.

He added that most of the vessels in the various territories are of a similar age: old and very difficult to maintain.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is one of seven Caribbean countries that form the RSS and are signatories to an international agreement for the defence and security of the Eastern Caribbean region. The other member countries are Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Dominica and Grenada.