“Through the Joint Task Force, we’re establishing what is called the Joint Intelligence Unit or the Joint Intelligence Office,” Smith said.
He made the announcement during an interview on ZBVI radio after a large quantity of a substance believed to be cocaine was discovered in a container at the BVI Port Authority’s Purcell cargo facility.
The Customs boss said the Unit is expected to have an intelligence officer from each of the three main law enforcement agencies – the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Her Majesty’s Customs and the Immigration Department – working closely together to gather and disseminate intelligence to the operational units of the law enforcement agencies of the Joint Task Force (JTF).
The news comes against the backdrop of reports that there have been challenges experienced in the past with intelligence sharing across the BVI’s various law enforcement agencies.
Police Commissioner Mark Collins said there was a lack of trust between law enforcement agencies and said this lack of trust hampers effective collaboration. Collins suggested that there was a degree of cultural resistance responsible for the deficiency and said this was compounded by a lack of training on the part of some officers.
As for the suspected drugs discovered at Port Purcell, Commissioner Smith said the contraband amounted to about 44 kilos. He said investigations on the find remain ongoing.
In a bid to preserve the integrity of these investigations, the Customs boss declined to answer questions on whether the suspected drugs were addressed to a local person. He also declined to say the country from where the items originated.
However, Smith noted that the suspected drugs were now in the custody of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.