Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2022, 11:15 GMT

Barbados: Current reports of drug trafficking; activities of drug dealers and gangs involved in drug trafficking; attitude and interventions of the state and police

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 12 December 2002
Citation / Document Symbol BRB40555.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Barbados: Current reports of drug trafficking; activities of drug dealers and gangs involved in drug trafficking; attitude and interventions of the state and police, 12 December 2002, BRB40555.E, available at: [accessed 6 October 2022]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration's Website includes a report entitled The Drug Trade in the Caribbean: A Threat Assessment (n.d.) that provides the following information on narcotics and narcotics trafficking in Barbados:

Barbados is one of the small islands that comprise the eastern edge of the Caribbean transit zone for drugs traveling from South America to the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Drug traffickers use Barbados and the other islands of the Lesser Antilles as a staging area for airdrops and smuggling by small vessel. Most of the cocaine seized in Barbados comes from couriers that transit Barbados' Grantley Adams International Airport. The airport is a major international hub that provides daily direct flights to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK).

Multihundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine are estimated to transit Barbados each year. Cocaine enters the country, primarily by way of go-fast boats and couriers arriving from Venezuela and Guyana, and the nearby islands of St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago. Traffickers sometimes use coastal freighters generally carrying 100- to 250-kilogram loads of cocaine from Guyana, Trinidad, and Venezuela, that are offloaded at night to small vessels near Barbados. The cocaine is then distributed to local traffickers who either distribute it locally or smuggle it by courier into the United States, Canada, or Europe. Cruise ships also have been used to smuggle small amounts of cocaine and heroin through Barbados to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Marijuana is grown for local consumption on a small scale; however, Barbados receives the bulk of its marijuana shipments from St. Vincent and the Grenadines via go-fast boats and fishing vessels. Marijuana is imported from Colombia as well. St. Vincent marijuana sells for US$700 per pound while the Colombia marijuana can sell for as much as US$2,000 per pound. Some local marijuana traffickers have received cocaine as payment for transportation expenses.

The Royal Barbados Police Force and the Customs and Excise Department are the two main entities responsible for drug law enforcement in Barbados. The Royal Barbados Defense Force, which includes the Coast Guard, provides coastal defense and maritime drug interdiction in Barbados. Cocaine and crack cocaine continue to be available readily. Information received from the Royal Barbados Police Narcotics Unit indicates that the selling price of cocaine is US$7,000 to US$10,000 per kilogram, while crack cocaine sells for US$5 to US$10 per rock. In recent years, there also has been a noticeable increase in the amount of cocaine-related arrests on the island.


Barbados is not considered a major transshipment point for essential chemicals that may be diverted for illicit drug production. The Barbados Drug Service, in collaboration with the Customs and Excise Department, is the agency responsible for controlling the diversion of pharmaceuticals and controlled chemical substances. The GOB requires pre-export notifications of controlled chemical shipments to Barbados. Barbadian law criminalizes the diversion of controlled chemical substances and pharmaceuticals.

In November 1966, Barbados became an independent state. The GOB has signed the major international antidrug agreements including the 1961 UN Single Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. However, the GOB has not signed the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. In 1996, Barbados signed extradition and [the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty] MLAT treaties with the United States. Those treaties entered into effect in 2000. In 1997, the GOB signed a maritime agreement with the [United States Government] USG, but has no overflight agreement (US n.d.).

Several 2002 reports of drug trafficking in Barbados were found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate (AP 10 Mar. 2002; CMC 13 July 2002; 23 July 2002; AII 11 Oct. 2002; AP 7 Dec. 2002). On 10 March 2002, the Associated Press reported that the police found over 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) of marijuana on the eastern coast of Barbados. A man from St. Vincent was sentenced in Barbados in July 2002 for drug trafficking, and a Barbadian fisherman was detained in connection with the same incident (CMC 13 July 2002). According to, 100 bales of marijuana were seized from a Barbados-based fishing boat that had been stopped by a British navy vessel in July 2002 (23 July 2002). In October 2002 an Irish man was charged with drug trafficking at the Barbados airport (AII 11 Oct. 2002). Police in Barbados recovered over $3.2 million (US$1.6 million) worth of marijuana from drug traffickers in December 2002 (AP 7 Dec. 2002). The police and the traffickers allegedly fired shots at one another; however, no injuries or arrests were reported (ibid.).

Freedom House reports that Barbados has seen an increase in violent gun crimes that have been predominantly linked to drug trafficking (19 July 2002). As a result of these crimes, the Royal Barbados Police Force and the volunteer-led Barbados Defence Force are jointly patrolling the country (Freedom House 19 July 2002).

The National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA), which was formed in 1995 by the Government of Barbados to prevent and control drug problems and performs the following functions:

a. advise the Minister on measures for the eradication or control of substance abuse;

b. advise the Minister on measures to prevent the proliferation of illegal narcotic drugs;

c. devise, undertake and promote programmes and projects aimed at the prevention, elimination or control of substance abuse;

d. authorize, conduct and facilitate research or surveys on substance abuse;

e. undertake or facilitate programmes for the treatment and rehabilitation of persons affected by substance abuse;

f. manage facilities for the treatment and rehabilitation of persons affected by substance abuse;

g. coordinate or facilitate groups and organizations in the effort to eradicate or control substance abuse;

h. cooperate with local, regional and international organizations with interests similar to those of the Council; and

i. solicit, receive and manage funds donated by government, the private sector, private citizens and international organizations for the functions mentioned in paragraph (a) to (h).

The program has the following components:

* Coordination and Research

* School Prevention

* Community Prevention

* Treatment and Rehabilitation

* Public Relations and Communications Elements

* Part-time Counselling Services

[A] National Substance Abuse Master Plan was completed in January 2002 and is currently awaiting Government Approval (CICAD 2002).

At the regional level, Barbados and other CARICOM states are considering establishing a regional plan to curb drug trafficking, which would include the development of border controls and increased information sharing about criminals (AFP 6 July 2002). In addition, OAS member states put forth a new proposal at the OAS General Assembly in June 2002 to develop an Inter-American Declaration on Hemispheric Security in order to address drug trafficking and other hemispheric concerns (US 3 June 2002).

No other information regarding the activities of drug dealers, gangs or police attitudes and interventions in drug trafficking could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP) [Georgetown]. 6 July 2002. "Hailing "enormous advances" Caribbean Leaders Close CARICOM Summit." (NEXIS)

Airline Industry Information (AII). 11 October 2002. "Irish Man Charged With Drug Trafficking at Barbados Airport." (NEXIS)

Associated Press (AP) [Christ Church]. 7 December 2002. "A Package of News Briefs From the Caribbean." (NEXIS)

_____. [Bridgetown]. 10 March 2002. "A Package of News Briefs From the Caribbean." (NEXIS)

Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) [Bridgetown]. 13 July 2002. "St. Vincent: Man Sentenced to Five Years, Fined for Drug Trafficking." (BBC Worldwide Monitoring 14 July 2002/NEXIS) 23 July 2002. "UK Destroyer in $66m Cocaine Swoop." [Accessed 10 Dec. 2002]

Freedom House. 19 July 2002. Freedom in the World 2001-2002. "Barbados." [Accessed 10 Dec. 2002]

Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD). 2002. Barbados. "National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA)." [Accessed 11 Dec. 2002]

United States (US). 3 June 2002. Secretary Colin L. Powell. United States Department of State. "Opening Remarks and Q&A With the Press Following OAS General Assembly." [Accessed 11 Dec. 2002]

_____. n.d. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. "The Drug Trade in the Caribbean: A Threat Assessment: Barbados." [Accessed 10 Dec. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Internet sites, including:

Barbados Advocate

Barbados Government Information Service

Daily Nation

Human Rights Watch

Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD)

International Relations and Security Network

One World

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDCP)

United States Drug Enforcement Administration (US DEA)

Washington Post

World News Connection

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld