Following the discovery of nearly 20 marijuana farms within a few hours of aerial surveillance yesterday, a captain in the Royal Navy has noted the major difference a helicopter can make in the fight against narcotics and illegal guns being smuggled into the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
About four marijuana farms were located on Virgin Gorda and the remaining 15 on the island of Tortola, when members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay carried out the helicopter search yesterday.
Members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force were also part of the aerial search.
Captain of the vessel Christopher Clarke told journalists during a tour of Mounts Bay that the helicopter has the necessary capabilities to significantly boost local law enforcement.
“The helicopter brings with it some very unique capabilities. It is able to operate 24/7; it has day and night capability; it has sophisticated radars, sophisticated sensors – and those capabilities together can really assist the police commissioner and his work on border around the island. We have been using it (the helicopter) to help that process…” Captain Clarke continued.
“The use of the helicopter [on Monday] is a fantastic example of how just two hours of focus work can bring some real value to the community of the British Virgin Islands… By speaking to the police commissioner, we can really understand how Mounts Bay can help right up to the coastline and internally as well – of course in the fight against the drugs and the gun crime – the criminality that occurs not only in the British Virgin Islands, but elsewhere in the Caribbean as you can understand,” the captain added.
Mounts Bay – in addition to conducting counter narcotics trafficking patrols with United States and other international forces, provides support to the United Kingdom Overseas Territories such as the BVI.
Its crew, which has been in the BVI since last Friday, will depart today (July 25). It has carried out various community activities in the BVI, and meetings were held with Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews, Director of the Department of Disaster Management Sharleen DaBreo, and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith.
The vessel is remaining in the region for three years.
“We are part of a near constant presence out in the Caribbean; – the Navy has been here for many years. This ship is going to be deployed for approximately three years; so it is gonna have a lot of persistence in the area,” Captain Clarke explained.
“We are currently on a small tour of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories. We have already been to Grand Cayman, and now the BVI, and then we will be going to Anguilla and Montserrat. And we will be catching up with Grand Turk in due course as well.”
Captain Clarke noted the importance of Mounts Bay maintaining a presence in the region especially at this time of the year. “It is important to come out at this time of the year just before the hurricane season starts in proper, to make sure that we can make the contacts with key officials… So, in times of crisis, if we have a hurricane or other disaster hit the island, hopefully we can come and help in any way the organizations like to use us,” Captain Clarke said.
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