Bahamian Regional law enforcers turn eye towards synthetic drug trade

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Officials from several key law enforcement and national security agencies from throughout the region, The Bahamas included, are participating in a major Synthetic Drug Workshop, as regional law enforcers turn their attention towards the growing trade.

Hosted by officials of the Royal Bahamas Police Training College and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the workshop is designed to provide regional and Bahamian law enforcement and national security agencies with the “knowledge and skills necessary to help combat the growing phenomena of synthetic drug production.”

It is a collaborative effort between the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (OAS), the RCMP and the Government of The Bahamas, through the Ministry of National Security.

Minister of National Security the Hon. O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest said the workshop comes at a critical time, as synthetic drug production and its sale and use, are a growing concern in the Western Hemisphere.

Hon. O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest

“These drugs can be produced anywhere with chemicals and precursors that in many instances, are readily available,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“For the most part, drug enforcement efforts tend to be focused on cocaine, heroin and marijuana,” Mr. Turnquest continued, “frequently, the synthetic drug problem goes undetected.

“This workshop will provide law enforcement, customs, chemists and others with the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfill their responsibilities as they relate to synthetic drugs whose monitoring, investigation and interdiction requires special skills, in many ways different from those used in relation to plant-based drugs,” Mr. Turnquest added.

The National Security Minister said synthetic drugs refer to those substances that do not originate with a plant, but are created through chemical means. They include amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) such as methamphetamines and “club drugs” such as ecstasy and others.

The drugs are produced with chemicals and solvents, many of which are toxic and/or volatile. As such, clandestine laboratories where the drugs are produced represent significant dangers for First responders and law enforcement officers who may encounter, or are called to these sites.

“Participants in the workshop will have the opportunity to see and work within a mock, clandestine laboratory applying some of the lessons they have learned,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“Modules delivered will cover the various drugs including methamphetamines, ecstasy, GHB and others; how they are produced; which chemicals are used for this purpose; clandestine laboratories and officer safety,” Mr. Turnquest added.

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