October 4, 2011
PM: ‘The weed wasn’t the problem’

Prime Minister and Political Leader of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has revealed that the eradication of the marijuana plant was not the main objective of Operation Vincy Pac.{{more}}

Gonsalves, giving the political leader’s report at the ULP National Council meeting last Tuesday, September 27, at the Peace Memorial Hall, said that the purpose of the month-long exercise, which took place in 2009, was an attempt to apprehend criminals who had made a haven of the many hills and mountains of the country, and the persons financing them.

The exercise involved members of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force and the Regional Security Services.

“The weed wasn’t the problem. The problem was the foreigners who were here, and a handful of drug barons here.”

“I wanted some people to go into the hills, so that those who are in the hills would come out and they thought it was going to be like every single time; but we had the bulk of the force in the valleys and the cities to capture plenty of them.”

Dr. Gonsalves made this disclosure as he illustrated his government’s stance against crime in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that it had taken the fight against the criminal elements.

He said that as opposed to drug eradication exercises conducted by the New Democratic Party administration and the American military, Operation Vincy Pac had put a bigger dent in the drug planting.

“What they don’t understand, the man dem with the drugs planting in the hills for some time now. They do three crops per year; one long crop and two short crops….

…. When the Americans used to come here, they never used to come in May, they coming in December when they have the weed in the hills…. I wasn’t interested in having a lot of men over to chop down marijuana trees…. By May, practically all the weed done reap. That’s why you hardly got many trees, but we got millions of seedlings because they are just starting to plant back.”

The Prime Minister said that because of the effectiveness of Operation Vincy Pac, a number of drug barons used their financial influence against ULP candidates in the 2010 elections, but his party came out victorious, nonetheless, and “broke the back of the drug barons”.

He said that the fight against crime continues.

“Don’t think the war is over, because others will come up and we have to keep an eye out and your ears. This issue of drugs and gangs is something we will have to deal with, or else it will come like Jamaica and Trinidad and like one or two other places in the Caribbean and Latin America. It ain’t coming like that in St. Vincent under our watch.

I know a lot of our supporters did not agree with me with Vincy Pac, but the hallmark of a leader is to do the right thing, even when some of your own supporters don’t necessarily agree with you.

Because I am in possession of information which you would not have on certain things, you have to trust our judgment and I can’t come and tell you everything why I had to bring Vincy Pac.”

Operation Vincy Pac saw the arrest of 30 persons, the seizure of 12 firearms and 395 rounds of ammunition.

8.5 million marijuana plants and 7.3 million seedlings were confiscated, and three men were also killed by police during the operation.(JJ)