JAYDENE Thomas, a Jamaican lawyer practising in Barbados, has admitted that she is sickened to the core by the number of Jamaicans who get caught attempting to smuggle drugs into that eastern Caribbean island.
Thomas, who is representing a Jamaican woman who after being found guilty of attempting to smuggle marijuana into Barbados, was sexually abused by police officers while in custody, said that at least one Jamaican each week appears before the courts for drug-related matters in that country.
This she said helps to put all Jamaicans in a bad light and allows for immigration officials at the Grantley Adams Airport to treat law-abiding Jamaicans with disdain and subject them to harsh treatment.
Figures released by Jamaica's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade last year, revealed that a total of 1,485 Jamaicans were refused entry on arrival in Barbados between 2007 and 2012.
"Every week at least one Jamaican appears in court for bringing up drugs. It's getting ridiculous and it looks bad. Trust me, every single week I can count on a Jamaican to be in court for drugs and it is always the same story. Most are from the country areas. I am tired of helping them," Thomas told the Jamaica Observer.
Jamaicans, along with Guyanese nationals, are most often refused entry into Barbados than other Caricom nationals.
While there are no modern X-ray machines installed at the Grantley Adams Airport as is the case at Jamaica's two airports, where ionscan machines donated by the British Government have been set up, narcotics officers at the airport have employed strategies that will nab offenders and Thomas is pleading with Jamaicans to desist from getting involved with the illicit trade, despite the promise of big money.
"I want to make a plea to the Jamaicans who are bringing in drugs and those who are contemplating it, to stop. Don't do it. They will be caught and the promise of payment of US$1,000 is not worth it," Thomas warned.
The sentences for drug trafficking in that country are heavy.
The Barbados dollar is valued at US 50 cents.
"They don't realise that it's a fine or prison and the fines aren't normal because if they get caught, the minimum amount for a fine is US$7,500 and I have seen fines for BDS$150,000 for 2 kilos of cocaine," Thomas said.
Jamaicans have long complained of being subjected to unfair treatment at the hands of the Barbadian officials, but Thomas is of the view that the behaviour of some of her countrymen have fanned the flames of that fire.
In May this year, 20-year-old Shanique Ameike Hyman of 90 West Street in Kingston, was sentenced to 12 months after she passed out 17 parcels of marijuana weighing half a pound at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The pregnant Hyman arrived in Barbados from Trinidad, cleared immigration and was then interviewed by the police.
She was arrested and taken to the hospital and examined by a doctor where she confessed that she was pregnant. This was confirmed by ultrasound.
The young woman also admitted that she had ingested drugs, and tests revealed contraband in her digestive system.
Hyman admitted in court that she was smuggling the ganja to support her family and pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis, possession with intent to supply, trafficking in the drug and importing the drug.
Thomas also had a warning for Jamaican women who travel to the eastern Caribbean island to make a living off the sex trade by working as exotic dancers or in massage parlours, that they too are taking a big risk.
The Jamaican women are sought after in Barbados and often promised big bucks by Barbadian pimps to sell their 'wares' in that country.
But Thomas issued a stern warning that Jamaican women should be wary of the hustlers.
"Your passports will get taken from you as soon as you land and you will have no way out. You will be exploited and will have to be constantly watching your backs because you are running from the law," she said.