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RSS gets wings to fight drugs

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RSS gets wings to fight drugs

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FROM NEXT YEAR, drug traffickers who enter Caribbean waters will not be able to hide under the cover of darkness or bad weather.
That’s because the two planes that form part of the air wing of the Regional Security System (RSS) will be a few steps closer to swooping down on them thanks to more than US$8 million from the United States government.
Director of the Narcotics Affairs Section of the United States Embassy here, Kurt van der Walde, said the time had come to take the RSS to the next level.
 “There have been a lot of technological advancements over the last 12 years and so the time had come to upgrade the sensors and radars which were reaching the end of their useful life. So we are going to pay to upgrade the sensors so they can see through the clouds at night in rain so that the bad guys can’t outrun them because of bad weather or the cover of darkness,” he said.
 Walde said the air wing enhancement was just one piece of the puzzle.
“When these guys are doing their great work in the air all hours of the night, there has to be someone on the ground who can intercept them and that is where our partner nations come in.
“They need to make a commitment to have those maritime vessels out there who can do the interdiction because we can track them all we want from the air, but if there is no one on the ground to intercept them, it is all for naught,” he said.
 Walde said the United States government was collaborating with eastern Caribbean governments and was spending US$100 million to give regional countries interceptor boats.
 “We expect to start delivering those to eastern Caribbean Governments in March and April and that should give them increased capability,” he said.
 Yesterday at the RSS?Air Wing at Paragon, Christ Church, the American government represented by Charge D’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Barbados, Christopher Sandrolini, pledged its support for the RSS with more than US$10 million,
US$8.25 million of which will be used to ensure that the United States-donated C-26 aircraft have the latest onboard sensors and radars.
 He made the sign-off with RSS?coordinator Grantley Watson, a former Commissioner of Police, who noted that over the last nine years the regional force had been able to seize our disrupt over 80 000 pounds of cannabis and aid in the capture of 111 vessels.
 Watson said the RSS had logged more than 11 000 flight hours and run almost 2 500 missions. Sandrolini said the US$10 million in new assistance was part of President Obama’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a partnership between the United States and the countries of the Caribbean.
“Through this partnership, all of our countries have agreed to share the responsibility for ensuring our common security. This is not a handout; it is a down payment to help the RSS and its member states implement our common vision for a safer, more prosperous Caribbean region,” he said.
Sandrolini said this kind of partnership would lead to greater success in the fight against transnational crime, narcotics and weapons trafficking.