by Emmanuel Joseph

handgunandbulletBarbados is becoming a major port for firearms dealers who are involved in illegal drugs.

In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Comptroller of Customs, Frank Holder, revealed that an increasing number of small arms is being shipped to this country.

Holder said that in recent times, the Bridgetown Port had been the main problem for his department with respect to illegal drugs, which are accompanied by guns. He pointed out that in some cases, officers were discovering just firearms.

The comptroller attributed the rise in the import of weapons to the need by drug traders to defend their “valuable” property.

“The seizure of drugs can lead to gun play – because of the nature of the operation, persons value the drugs,” Holder noted.

“Within recent times, our main problem has been the Bridgetown Port, where we’ve had quite a quantity [of] drugs coming into the port, and with that we’ve also had a quantity of firearms being shipped [into Barbados

“The thing about this is the drugs are being shipped along with the guns… Previously we regarded the United States as a consumer of drugs, rather than the source of drugs. But that is now starting to reverse; there is quite a quantity of drugs coming from the United States.”

He identified a new type of marijuana now being imported into Barbados from the US. The chief customs officer named it as hydroponic marijuana which is grown in enclosed places. He reported a rise in imports of this type of the illegal drug.

“And we’ve found that along with it (drugs) we’ve had one or two firearms being enclosed inside of the drugs. We work closely with the police on these matters and we have had quite a lot of success,” he added.

Holder conceded that law enforcement officers may miss some of the contraband items from time to time, but were taking all possible steps to counter the illicit trade by being as efficient as they could be.

While not in a position to give figures, he said there had been a series of arrests.

“The guns are sent, and very often they are sent to people who would say they knew nothing about them, that they had just asked somebody to send them something, and the guns were found inside of the package. So it is not that we can determine what type of person is shipping the firearms, or what type of person they are coming to,” the comptroller of customs reasoned.

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